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Stephen

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    Stephen got a reaction from Kiwiflyer in Classic Aircraft Review Updated : Aircruiser 66-75 v1.1 by Hangar 23   
    Classic Aircraft Review Updated : Aircruiser 66-75 v1.1 by Hangar 23
     
    Very early classic aircraft are very interesting, more so when they are so rare. This aircraft is about as rare as you could could imagine, only 23 of them were built between 1930 and 1938. But they have a significant place in Aviation history, only to be replaced by the United States federal regulations that prohibited single-engine transports on United States airlines, virtually eliminating future markets for the Aircruiser.
     
    Bellanca Aircruiser and Airbus were high-wing, single-engine aircraft built by Bellanca Aircraft Corporation of New Castle, Delaware. The aircraft was built as a "workhorse" intended for use as a passenger or cargo aircraft. It was available with wheels, floats or skis. The aircraft was powered by either a Wright Cyclone or Pratt or a Whitney Hornet engine. The Airbus and Aircruiser served as both commercial and military transports. The first Bellanca Airbus was built in 1930 as the P-100. An efficient design, it was capable of carrying 12 to 14 passengers depending on the cabin interior configuration, with later versions carrying up to 15.
     

     
    The Aircruiser's distinctive shape, gave it the moniker of "The Flying Ws" and this hardy design was still flying in Canada well into the 1970's . Is it a Bi-Plane, sort of, as the lower W is still a part aerodynamic surface. When you look at the design closely, it is extremely clever in holding up and bracing the main wing, as for also being a support for the landing wheels.
     

     
    The Aircruiser is a "Tail-Dragger", most were back in this 1930's period, but the early evolution of the multi-seat passenger aircraft is highly perceivable, back in the day, it was, still is a very innovative design. For an aircraft, it looks heavy, but sturdy is probably the best description
     
    Hangar 23 is a not really a new entrant to the X-Plane Developers affiliation, but a ex-TorqueSim developer. Still the Aircruiser is an interesting one in the choice of aircraft to debut their talents in doing their own Studio. Technical information of the Aircruiser is rare, but there are two surviving in existence, "CF-BTW," a 1938 model in the Ericson Collection in Madras, Oregon, incredibly the aircraft is still airworthy. The second is "CF-AWR" named the "Eldorado Radium Silver Express", built in 1935, and is under restoration at the Western Canada Aviation Museum in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
     
    Update v1.1...  This review has been updated to version v1.1, this includes a set of changes that came out only a few weeks after this original release review was published, the changes are noted here v1.1
     
    Installation
    The download for the Aircruiser is 1.18GB, with an installation of 1.38Gb. But the installation file/folder system is a slightly complicated. Hangar 23 has selected to put the main Aircruiser file within a folder of a folder? So the first folder is "Aircraft" followed by a folder named "Hangar 23" , with the actual "Aircruiser" aircraft folder inside, or buried in layers of folders? Honestly the first "Aircraft" folder is not required, so just install the "Hangar 23" Folder directly into your X-Plane "Aircraft" folder with the Aircruiser folder inside.
     

     
    All the installation notes are in the excellent manual, but the doubled up "Aircraft" folder creates confusion... 
     

     
    Detail and modeling
    For an aircraft of this size, an installation size of 1.38Gb can only mean one thing, quality in detail. Remember this is a first time effort from Hangar 23, but the detail and quality is outstanding. Both an X-Plane 12 and X-Plane 11 versions are included in the package, but it is the XP12 version on show here with it's more exponential PBR (Physical Based Rendering) effects and lighting. And it really blows you away.
     

     
    X-PlaneReviews are usually quite lenient when the studio name is new, in overlooking sometimes even the obvious mistakes or poor areas of first time production...  But already with the quality of work behind Ulrich, you go straight into the "Masters" level, but this is still a first release from Hangar 23 is just outstanding...  and an highly impressive debut for the Studio!
     
    And all with an aircraft so rare...  the beauty of Simulation is that iconic and classical aircraft can be recreated, their forgotten time, brought back and to live again, or in this case fly again. At the core of this Aircruiser Simulation is just that very aspect, bringing the past alive again for you to absorb and interact with. 
     
    But this is outstanding work...  all the wing braces and support wires are sensationally done, every bolt, castle nut and Cotter Split Pins, are modeled here in detail, leading edge panels are worn and authentic, the struts in detail are excellent, you have to admire it all.
     

     
    If you are a detail junkie, who loves to spend time investigating the quality of the work, then you will love this aircraft, as it's a museum piece brought alive. The massive top wing looks canvas, and you can see the frame that the material covers, it's a lovely formed wing as well. Actually two separate wings, attached to the fuselage.
     

     
    This was the golden age of innovation for aircraft, the transition from wood, canvas to metal, so you get sometimes the mixture of the two eras in the one development as the changes moved on forward.
     
    The detail is just gobsmacking. The panels are perfect and so are the bolts that hold them in place, windows and it's thick glass are worn and glazed to perfection... The Cyclone SGR-1820 it is rated at 760 hp, as is the giant three-bladed geared propeller, and all gloriously there to admire. The engines internal intricate detail of metal and brass pipework is very impressive.
     

     
    The Aircruiser is flat sided, there are no curves in the doors and the windows are more nautical portholes than aircraft, but it's all beautifully done, and it is all built like a tank!
     

     
    The two main landing wheels hubs, tyres are massive, but simplistic as well, detail is right down to large CirClip to hold the rim onto the hub.
     

     
     There are four doors that can be opened, two small high cockpit access doors, one left passenger door, and a very big odd A shaped cargo door...  all four doors are so authentic to the design, with the Cargo door in two sections that folds.
     

     
    Honestly, it is like a flying shed inside, totally weird.
     

     
    The interior is impressively done, metal and wood dominate, SO much weight in the construction, how did this thing get off the ground?
     

     
    It's all metal piping and blocks of wood, many trees were felled in the creation of the interior, a far, far cry from the ultra clean, state-of-the-art LED lighting Airbus interiors...  this is doing it rough. The passenger seats are a pipeframe, with a strung canvas seat, you wouldn't want to go to far on them.
     
    Pilot seats are a metal bucket, the pilot gets the luxury of a cushion, the CoPilot the hard metal base. The cushion is required not for comfort, but to be elevated to see over the extremely high instrument panel.
     

     
    The yoke is a big hefty iron thing, beautifully skillfully designed and modeled, you can hide it via a hotspot centre yoke. The side quadrant is again excellent, with the Throttle (T), Propeller (P) and Mixture (M) levers, notable that in 90 years the controls are still as relevant then as now. Lower rudder pedals are also big hefty iron contraptions, you need to be Popeye with his strong arms and legs to match, to fly the Aircruiser.
     

     
    Notable are the two trim winders, one left for pitch/elevator adjustment, and another on the forward roof for the rudder trim. Point to make is that there is no visual trim setting, so you don't know if they are both centred or not, but a guide is two full winder rotations each way. Note the old fashioned brake lever and flap selector handle.
     

     
    -v1.1- in the update Hangar 23 added in a visual marker on to both of the trim winder panels, it's only a small round brass tack, but it does show you your current trim position.
     

     
    Main instrument panel is amazing, this is simply a panel with inset instruments that is highly authentic. Note the boxed Whiskey Compass
     

     
    Again the layout is quite familiar... with a Standard Six layout. Top left is the Airspeed Indicator (MPH/KNTS), Vertical Speed Indicator (V/S), very basic Rate of Turn Indicator, below offset is a Directional Vacuum Gyro (Heading), Altmeter and Horizontal Reference (bank).
     
    Far left is a RPM dial, Manifold Pressure, and top right a CYL TEMP. Right panel has Volts, OAT (Outside AirPressure), Oil Temp/Pressure and Fuel Pressure...  top Ignition Switch, Fuel Gauges (twin), PPH (Pounds Per Hour) fuel flow and a ELGIN clock. Lower left are a row of switches that cover Battery, Generator, Nav (lights), Landing (light), Starter, Coil Booster, Fuel Pump, Panel Lights and Cabin Light. Far, far left is the fuel tank cock; Both, Left & Right.
     
    It's all so impressively well done, the flaked tired black metal facia is very authentic to an aged old aircraft of this generation.
     
     

     
    - Update v1.1 - Added in the update were two instrument items both related to the "Carburettor Heat". A knob lower dash, and a gauge middle panel centre right.
     


    Menu
    There is a banner menu "Hangar23Aircruiser" that has two menu options; "Options" and "GPS Style"
     

     
    Options: There are six options, Autopilot Toggle, Strain Gauge Toggle, Real Autorudder Toggle, Steerable Tailwheel, Show Pilot and Use Clipboard.
     
    The Aircruiser comes with a very basic 2-Axis "Sparrow" Autopilot, basically a set "Holds" Pitch and Roll Rate. Second option is to add on a "Strain Gauge" or Trim indicator. Both are positioned lower centre panel
     

     
    We will go more into the "AutoRudder" in flight, but if you want to disconnect or activate the the AutoRudder you can do so via the menu option, you can also use the hotspot on the (front) Whiskey Compass to do the same action.
     

     
    The Tailwheel is steerable by the rudder pedals, but if you want a free castoring wheel, you can disconnect it via the "Steerable Tailwheel" option.
     

     
    There is the option to show or hide the pilot. He is fully animated in rudder and pitch (forwards & backwards) and seems to have his hands full in controlling the aircraft, he is very good here and well done.
     

     
    Next in the "options" menu is the "Use Clipboard". In the right side pocket there is a VR (Virtual Reality) clipboard (also clickable).
     

     
    This really the "Fuel & Weights" menu...  as you can adjust the fuel and Pilots, Passenger, Cargo weights by scrolling them in. They can be set in Lbs or Kgs and the "Load", "Empty" (weight) and Full Gross weight can be seen. You can "Save" your settings, and then "Load" them.
     
    Another note is that between flights the Aircruiser will save and reload the same settings to the next flight, until you adjust them.
     
    Last two separate items on the "Options" menu are "Reset AP Tuning" (Autopilot on/off) and "Reset AutoRudder Tuning", resets the rudder position to central.
     
    An option not shown in the menus, is that if the power is switched off, then the chocks are positioned on the front wheels.
     

     
    The second setting of the menu tab is the "GPS Style", here you can select between the Laminar GNS 530 GPS, or one of the two RXP (Realistic) GNS 530 or GNS 750 GPS units if you have that external additional option. I don't have the Realistic option so that install is not visible here. The GPS units are position on the roof forward, with also a default custom style COMM radio above, and a Transponder panel below.
     

     
    - Update v1.1 - Introduced a set of "Floats" for the aircraft. There was actually a Float version of the Aircruiser, notably two aircraft were converted...  noted here as a "Floatplane". The "Float" version can be selected on the "Flight Configuration" menu.
     

     
    "Huge" and chunky floats they are, there is no Amphibian variant (land wheels)
     

     
    The waterborne Aircruiser sits nicely on the water, also moves around on the fluids really well considering the size and weight of the machine. You need those extra huge extra tail fins to keep the aircraft straight.
     

     
    There are several ways to control the water rudder up/down movement. One (the easiest) is to set a keyboard command to "Toggle water rudder", or use the pull (up) or (down) slider on the floor, left behind the flap lever. Water rudder steerage is via your rudder pedals.
     

     
    Float detail is like the rest of the aircraft, exceptionally well done, lovely cleats and perfect cables
    ____________
     
    Flying the Aircruiser 66-75
    You can't at all see out of the Aircruiser, the long nose is way up there, blocking any view, as the tail is way back down there behind you. The only option is to lean very far left to try to see the ground.
     

     
    You would think the Aircruiser being so old-fashioned would be a pain to start, but it's quite benign and easy as long as you do the right procedure. Fuel on "Both", Fuel Pump on, then the most important switch, the "Boost Coil" switch to on. Mixture just to above the (Auto) lean red marker...  then up the "Starter" switch, the prop will turn, then gradually fire into a running engine... 
     

     
    Both the start up and shutdown of the Cyclone SGR-1820 is exceptional, no fast artificial start or shut down here, but it all comes with stutters and engine positions that are very noticeable, as is the churn of the starter motor against the pressures "clock", "clocking" of the starting engine, its a great and a very realistic re-enactment of the starting, and then the stutter of the engine shutting down, I loved it.
     
    I have a horrible history of trying to control tail-draggers, spinning loose tail-wheels have given me loads of grief. But not here though... as mentioned you can disconnect the tail-wheel to be free, if you love that uncontrollable chaos. But for the rest of us the tail-wheel acts through the rudder pedals, but also through the usual "Tiller" yaw. This makes the Aircruiser very easy to manoeuvre around on the ground or on taxiways. Braking and the toe-brakes work normally as well.
     

     
    For once you not fighting the aircraft on the ground to go into the direction you want, but the view internally is hard work to keep it all on the narrow taxiway. So you have a habit of visually taxiing externally until you understand the aircraft more.
     
    Very important is to adjust the rudder trim 50%, or a full winder turn to the right. The SGR-1820 is a very powerful force on takeoff, the asymmetric thrust is huge, it pulls you so hard to the left, that even full rudder is required off the line...
     

     
    The Aircruiser for all it's massive weight is sprightly off the line, your working the pedals to find the right balance to keep the aircraft straight, it does thankfully nicely change direction tail-wise to your inputs, very quickly the tail is up at 40 MPH, and there is tons of lift from those wings, at 60 MPH+ and your now flying. The point from "off the line" to "Airborne" is very short, so no flaps are required, time to adjust your direction is short as well...  so once off the ground I was already veering right away from the runway, I didn't try to correct it, but just went with the flow and climbing turn, then leveled it all out straighter when higher. With practise with your rudder inputs you could keep it in more of a straight line out...  it's a total feel thing, a feel for the aircraft.
     

     
    Pitch trimming is nice, but I recommend a keyboard input than the badly positioned side wall-winder, same for the rudder trim on the roof...
     

       
    You have so much power, the Aircruiser is super fast for an aircraft of this size and age...  it's a very physical aircraft to fly, you use the rudder all the time, then finally finding the right amount of input to keep the aircraft in a straight line, a tough idea, with the amount of asymmetric thrust coming at you all the time. The 66-75, as featured here, could produce up to 730 hp from sea level through 5800 ft, where then the power built higher to ~760 hp
     

     
    Maximum speed is 144 kn (165 mph, 266 km/h), (but it feels far faster), Range is an amazing 608 nmi (700 mi, 1,130 km), and the Service ceiling is 22,000 ft (6,700 m), but the average cruising altitude is around 10,000ft, still fast and high for a 90 year old design.
     

     
    Hangar 23 has provided a tool, called the "AutoRudder function", a sort of A.I. tool to take the strain out of flying the Aircruiser. On the ground the rudder control functions as usual. So it was important to properly trim the aircraft prior to takeoff and landing. In flight, the autorudder system then takes control of the rudder, and will attempt to keep a slip angle as dictated by the yaw axis of the joystick. This allows the pilot to slip the aircraft even while the autorudder is active, such that even crosswind operations become possible with the system active. In other words it flies like the X-Plane tool when you have no yaw axis joystick, the wings are connected to the rudder.
     
    This gauge will merely prompts the pilot on the direction of trim needed to take load off the “servos”. Unlike the autopilot, the autorudder does not disconnect under a high strain, nor is it dependent upon the aircraft’s electrical system to operate (Cable operation).
     
    When activated (via the menu, or Compass)  the autorudder has a visible gauge, located on the yaw trim handle base plate.
     


    If you are going to deactivate the autorudder during normal flight, first adjust the rudder trim according to the strain gauge, otherwise a very sudden and very unpleasant disconnection will occur. It works very well...  but switched off the AirCruiser has a habit of yawing left, almost going around in circles....
     

     
    You can try to trim it out? but it's hard to find a neutral flight, I did find a position input that worked, slight right rudder and slight stick right as well, but it's tiring for any distance, short or long...  the AutoPilot is not much better, tricky to use is to centre the heading.
     

     
    You adjust via the "Roll" or "Up/Dn" switches, as per the three lights, red (left), white (centre) and green (right). But there is a delay in the operation that can make you over trim, I never quite mastered it...  so again even on the Autopilot, I went into a slight bank in left handed circles and couldn't the aircraft fly in a straight line unless under manual control. It's the sort of tool that all of a sudden you will understand it and get it right, with time and persistence. This system is like the Sperry Type A-3A. You will need to trim the aircraft perfectly, so the heading is as close to where you want to go and level, flying as straight as you can, then turn on the AP, trying to trim later while the Autopilot is active is a far harder situation.
     
    -v1.1- In the update a lot of attention was given to pitch stability and improved rudder response, also this adjustment also works better with the "Sparrow" Autopilot, in both manual and automatic orientations the aircraft felt far more stable, more directional, than with the past banking action...  certainly a big improvement in this area.
     
    Lighting
    Lighting internally and externally is basic, which is to be expected. There is one switch for the instrument lights, and another switch for the cabin lights, two spider-web looking ones forward and two roof lights rear, it all looks quite nice at night...
     

     
    The GPS install looks bright and also odd in this old cabin, but it's very well done and easy to use.
     

     
    Externally there are only again two light switches...  Navigation, red, green and white tail, the other light is a left wing mounted Landing light, that look and is quite effective. There are no strobes or beacon lights on the aircraft...
     

     
    Flight notes by Hangar 23 notes "DAY - NIGHT* - VFR...  *Poor visibility and the antiquated aircraft lighting scheme will present additional challenges during night flights". In other words it is not really an aircraft to be flown in the dark...
     
    Sounds...  are a bit of a mixed bag. Overall they are excellent, the startup is an aural experience, and so is shutdown, external engine noises are very good right through the range of power outputs, that's the good. The poor is the buzzy interior sounds, that have a sameness of a consistent droning buzz with no fluctuations, even over a short distance I was distracted or even bored with the noise, The Aircruiser maybe really like that in the air, but I didn't really connect with them. The lower power outputs (on the throttle) are however better. Notable is the Aircruiser engine’s 16:11 gear ratio, for the propeller spins slower than the engine, but all readouts and aural sounds are based on the engine and adjustments should be made according to engine state rather than calculated propeller RPM.
     
    -v1.1- There was a lot of attention to sounds in the v1.1 update...  there was improved cockpit sound origins and changed FMOD engine sounds (which both will be updated incrementally going forward as improvements happen). The developer was at least very responsive to comments, this area certainly needed more better aural sounds.
     
    Time to head back to Shoreham (EGKA). A tricky place to lineup, for the mass of trees around the field. All the runways are hidden from view...
     

     
    ....   if the system is active on final approach, the autorudder will check if the rudder trim has been appropriately set for the upcoming power reduction. If the trim is not suitably centered, the system will intervene and reset the rudder trim to near center. This may be noted by the clicking of the trim’s chain drive, as well as a mild rolling tendency during finals. Myself I turned the automation off to feel the aircraft on the approach phase, plus a single wind of the rudder trim, to reset it as it was on the takeoff phase. The handling felt normal, as did the approach. If however the autorudder is active, then it will disconnect on landing.
     
    Nose up to rub off the speed, as there is no "white flap use zone", I guessed in setting the flaps to below 100 MPH, actually below 90 MPH, and you get a slight lift on each extension...  but the transition now down to 80MPH with now a slight descent into Shoreham it all felt perfect. The flap lever or floor handle is extremely well done. It's both a brake handle and Flap handle in one.
     

     
    Over the coastline, and there is still no visual on the runways. Then finally the field is in view.... so I drop, in also trying to miss the treeline.
     

     
    ...  but I realise I am too high, and becoming too fast in trying to get down to the grass strip. It's still a very good try....  but I have to abort and climb out!
     

     
    I will note the throttle inputs. If the Aircruiser is trimmed (correctly, or well). The Throttle control is very, very good, as you can control the height via the power. Full power to climb out was excellent (after that slight delay), but I found the Aircruiser to be quite normal in the approach/landing phase as any other heavy single-engined General Aviation aircraft. However you have to be aware of the weight around you with using the throttle power, and that tendency to yaw right with the huge power increase, but you soon adapt to the characteristics and the personality of the aircraft... fun? yes immensely, also a challenge to get the skills right in this cockpit.
     
    I didn't want to lose sight of the field layout, now I had found it. So it was a tight turn around back to the other opposite threshold. But be aware that too tight a bank and the Aircruiser will slip badly and lose height towards the lowered wing, there a sweet spot to find in the bank and before the slip starts to emerge, all this is required to get the best rotation of the aircraft.  
     

     
    Lower and slower this time....  and it feels right.
     

     
    Then slowly descend, descend "keep it steady" and I touch around 65 MPH, I am not to worried about the speed, as the Aircruiser on grass will dramatically drag itself slower. Toe brakes are still the best tool to stop the aircraft rotating hard right, then left on you, as this happens once the tail goes down, it's tricky, but with practise it works in keeping you straight... 
     

     
    I'm down, and arrested before the end of the grass strip...  not bad I say.
     
    Liveries
    There are six liveries, one Blank (default), and two liveries that are blank white, but one has a metal nose cover, and another has the same metal nose cover & metal tanks. All are nostalgic except the off soft purple Landmark?
     

    _____________
    Summary
    Extremely rare aircraft are always interesting, this Bellanca Aircruiser or Airbus, is one of the rarest as only 23 aircraft were built between 1930 -1938, it is also the famed "The Flying W" and this hardy design was still flying in Canada well into the 1970's.
     
    Hangar 23 is a not really a new entrant to the X-Plane Developers affiliation, but a ex-TorqueSim developer. And this unusual rare aircraft is their first project for the newly-named studio and the X-Plane Simulator. The Aircruiser is available as two separate packages for both X-Plane 12 (as shown here) and X-Plane 11.
     
    The quality here with the Hangar 23 Bellanca aircraft is very much on show, as it is highly developed and polished. Modeling is absolutely first rate and the detail is highlighted by this experienced and mature developer. As the aircraft is so rare, the detail in the reproduction is simply outstanding, to the point of recreating an era from a long time ago, and with a couple of modern tools thrown in as well, but not to the distraction of the authenticity of the original aircraft. Obviously this is a project of a labour of love, but still delivered with quality and polish.
     
    It is old fashioned in design, but the Aircruiser comes with so modern helpers like a "Sparrow" 2-Axis Autopilot, a custom AutoRudder feature, and GNS 530 GPS, and the option for Realistic RXP GNS 530 or GNS 750 GPS units. Tail-Wheel control can be via X-Plane style commands or free-castoring, that makes this aircraft easy for first time Tail-Dragger aircraft learning. Other options include Strain Gauges, Steerable Tailwheel, a fully animated Pilot and Clipboard with a Weights & Balance menu.
     
    The Aircruisers unorthodox design does make it a challenge to fly, but I have had far worse and more difficult machines to cope with in the past. The helpers of course help, but once you master that huge powerful force forward, the "Shed" like design is oddly very nice and involving to fly. I usually despise Tail-Draggers, but loved the Aircruiser quite a lot, no, a really lot more. The quality performance and well thought out physics, do bring the totally unique experience alive.
     
    Added was a significant update a few weeks after the initial release. This was v1.1, and it included aircraft "Floats", brass markers for the trims, carburettor heat knob and gauge, better sounds and better flight dynamics with improved pitch stability and rudder response. Also added for convenience was the Skunkcrafts Updater.
     
    It is certainly a huge credit to the skills of the developer of what they have delivered here, certainly it is a very unique Simulation, but totally authentic as well, Secondly the release also shows off X-Plane 12's excellent dynamics and quality lighting. The Aircruiser 66-75 is very rare, but you can absorb yourself in this 1930's Golden Era of Aviation, and this aircraft is highly relatable to the same machine created over 90 Years ago....  Highly Recommended. 
    ________________
     

     
    The Aircruiser 66-75 v1.1 by Hangar 23 is now available from the X-Plane.OrgStore!... Here:
     
    Aircruiser 66-75 Price is US$29.95
     
    Requirements
    X-Plane 12 and X-Plane 11   (2 separate packages) Windows or Mac   (Linux not supported) 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version: 1.1 (Feb 15th 2024)
    Download Size: 1.2 GB (each version)   Aircraft download is 1.18Gb, and unpacked, then installed in your X-Plane Aircraft folder 1.38Gb. Authorization on startup is required   Documents X-Plane Aircruiser Handbook.pdf The provided manual is excellent, a lot of detail, installation, setup and flying tips...  even Limitations and Operations.
      Designed by Hangar 23
    Support forum for the Aircruiser 66-75 ________________  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 12.09rc5 (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
    - EGKA - Shoreham - Brighton City Airport by NKdesign (X-Plane.orgStore) US$15.00 ________________  
    Update Review by Stephen Dutton
    12th March 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. Like
    Stephen got a reaction from Busair in Classic Aircraft Review Updated : Aircruiser 66-75 v1.1 by Hangar 23   
    Classic Aircraft Review Updated : Aircruiser 66-75 v1.1 by Hangar 23
     
    Very early classic aircraft are very interesting, more so when they are so rare. This aircraft is about as rare as you could could imagine, only 23 of them were built between 1930 and 1938. But they have a significant place in Aviation history, only to be replaced by the United States federal regulations that prohibited single-engine transports on United States airlines, virtually eliminating future markets for the Aircruiser.
     
    Bellanca Aircruiser and Airbus were high-wing, single-engine aircraft built by Bellanca Aircraft Corporation of New Castle, Delaware. The aircraft was built as a "workhorse" intended for use as a passenger or cargo aircraft. It was available with wheels, floats or skis. The aircraft was powered by either a Wright Cyclone or Pratt or a Whitney Hornet engine. The Airbus and Aircruiser served as both commercial and military transports. The first Bellanca Airbus was built in 1930 as the P-100. An efficient design, it was capable of carrying 12 to 14 passengers depending on the cabin interior configuration, with later versions carrying up to 15.
     

     
    The Aircruiser's distinctive shape, gave it the moniker of "The Flying Ws" and this hardy design was still flying in Canada well into the 1970's . Is it a Bi-Plane, sort of, as the lower W is still a part aerodynamic surface. When you look at the design closely, it is extremely clever in holding up and bracing the main wing, as for also being a support for the landing wheels.
     

     
    The Aircruiser is a "Tail-Dragger", most were back in this 1930's period, but the early evolution of the multi-seat passenger aircraft is highly perceivable, back in the day, it was, still is a very innovative design. For an aircraft, it looks heavy, but sturdy is probably the best description
     
    Hangar 23 is a not really a new entrant to the X-Plane Developers affiliation, but a ex-TorqueSim developer. Still the Aircruiser is an interesting one in the choice of aircraft to debut their talents in doing their own Studio. Technical information of the Aircruiser is rare, but there are two surviving in existence, "CF-BTW," a 1938 model in the Ericson Collection in Madras, Oregon, incredibly the aircraft is still airworthy. The second is "CF-AWR" named the "Eldorado Radium Silver Express", built in 1935, and is under restoration at the Western Canada Aviation Museum in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
     
    Update v1.1...  This review has been updated to version v1.1, this includes a set of changes that came out only a few weeks after this original release review was published, the changes are noted here v1.1
     
    Installation
    The download for the Aircruiser is 1.18GB, with an installation of 1.38Gb. But the installation file/folder system is a slightly complicated. Hangar 23 has selected to put the main Aircruiser file within a folder of a folder? So the first folder is "Aircraft" followed by a folder named "Hangar 23" , with the actual "Aircruiser" aircraft folder inside, or buried in layers of folders? Honestly the first "Aircraft" folder is not required, so just install the "Hangar 23" Folder directly into your X-Plane "Aircraft" folder with the Aircruiser folder inside.
     

     
    All the installation notes are in the excellent manual, but the doubled up "Aircraft" folder creates confusion... 
     

     
    Detail and modeling
    For an aircraft of this size, an installation size of 1.38Gb can only mean one thing, quality in detail. Remember this is a first time effort from Hangar 23, but the detail and quality is outstanding. Both an X-Plane 12 and X-Plane 11 versions are included in the package, but it is the XP12 version on show here with it's more exponential PBR (Physical Based Rendering) effects and lighting. And it really blows you away.
     

     
    X-PlaneReviews are usually quite lenient when the studio name is new, in overlooking sometimes even the obvious mistakes or poor areas of first time production...  But already with the quality of work behind Ulrich, you go straight into the "Masters" level, but this is still a first release from Hangar 23 is just outstanding...  and an highly impressive debut for the Studio!
     
    And all with an aircraft so rare...  the beauty of Simulation is that iconic and classical aircraft can be recreated, their forgotten time, brought back and to live again, or in this case fly again. At the core of this Aircruiser Simulation is just that very aspect, bringing the past alive again for you to absorb and interact with. 
     
    But this is outstanding work...  all the wing braces and support wires are sensationally done, every bolt, castle nut and Cotter Split Pins, are modeled here in detail, leading edge panels are worn and authentic, the struts in detail are excellent, you have to admire it all.
     

     
    If you are a detail junkie, who loves to spend time investigating the quality of the work, then you will love this aircraft, as it's a museum piece brought alive. The massive top wing looks canvas, and you can see the frame that the material covers, it's a lovely formed wing as well. Actually two separate wings, attached to the fuselage.
     

     
    This was the golden age of innovation for aircraft, the transition from wood, canvas to metal, so you get sometimes the mixture of the two eras in the one development as the changes moved on forward.
     
    The detail is just gobsmacking. The panels are perfect and so are the bolts that hold them in place, windows and it's thick glass are worn and glazed to perfection... The Cyclone SGR-1820 it is rated at 760 hp, as is the giant three-bladed geared propeller, and all gloriously there to admire. The engines internal intricate detail of metal and brass pipework is very impressive.
     

     
    The Aircruiser is flat sided, there are no curves in the doors and the windows are more nautical portholes than aircraft, but it's all beautifully done, and it is all built like a tank!
     

     
    The two main landing wheels hubs, tyres are massive, but simplistic as well, detail is right down to large CirClip to hold the rim onto the hub.
     

     
     There are four doors that can be opened, two small high cockpit access doors, one left passenger door, and a very big odd A shaped cargo door...  all four doors are so authentic to the design, with the Cargo door in two sections that folds.
     

     
    Honestly, it is like a flying shed inside, totally weird.
     

     
    The interior is impressively done, metal and wood dominate, SO much weight in the construction, how did this thing get off the ground?
     

     
    It's all metal piping and blocks of wood, many trees were felled in the creation of the interior, a far, far cry from the ultra clean, state-of-the-art LED lighting Airbus interiors...  this is doing it rough. The passenger seats are a pipeframe, with a strung canvas seat, you wouldn't want to go to far on them.
     
    Pilot seats are a metal bucket, the pilot gets the luxury of a cushion, the CoPilot the hard metal base. The cushion is required not for comfort, but to be elevated to see over the extremely high instrument panel.
     

     
    The yoke is a big hefty iron thing, beautifully skillfully designed and modeled, you can hide it via a hotspot centre yoke. The side quadrant is again excellent, with the Throttle (T), Propeller (P) and Mixture (M) levers, notable that in 90 years the controls are still as relevant then as now. Lower rudder pedals are also big hefty iron contraptions, you need to be Popeye with his strong arms and legs to match, to fly the Aircruiser.
     

     
    Notable are the two trim winders, one left for pitch/elevator adjustment, and another on the forward roof for the rudder trim. Point to make is that there is no visual trim setting, so you don't know if they are both centred or not, but a guide is two full winder rotations each way. Note the old fashioned brake lever and flap selector handle.
     

     
    -v1.1- in the update Hangar 23 added in a visual marker on to both of the trim winder panels, it's only a small round brass tack, but it does show you your current trim position.
     

     
    Main instrument panel is amazing, this is simply a panel with inset instruments that is highly authentic. Note the boxed Whiskey Compass
     

     
    Again the layout is quite familiar... with a Standard Six layout. Top left is the Airspeed Indicator (MPH/KNTS), Vertical Speed Indicator (V/S), very basic Rate of Turn Indicator, below offset is a Directional Vacuum Gyro (Heading), Altmeter and Horizontal Reference (bank).
     
    Far left is a RPM dial, Manifold Pressure, and top right a CYL TEMP. Right panel has Volts, OAT (Outside AirPressure), Oil Temp/Pressure and Fuel Pressure...  top Ignition Switch, Fuel Gauges (twin), PPH (Pounds Per Hour) fuel flow and a ELGIN clock. Lower left are a row of switches that cover Battery, Generator, Nav (lights), Landing (light), Starter, Coil Booster, Fuel Pump, Panel Lights and Cabin Light. Far, far left is the fuel tank cock; Both, Left & Right.
     
    It's all so impressively well done, the flaked tired black metal facia is very authentic to an aged old aircraft of this generation.
     
     

     
    - Update v1.1 - Added in the update were two instrument items both related to the "Carburettor Heat". A knob lower dash, and a gauge middle panel centre right.
     


    Menu
    There is a banner menu "Hangar23Aircruiser" that has two menu options; "Options" and "GPS Style"
     

     
    Options: There are six options, Autopilot Toggle, Strain Gauge Toggle, Real Autorudder Toggle, Steerable Tailwheel, Show Pilot and Use Clipboard.
     
    The Aircruiser comes with a very basic 2-Axis "Sparrow" Autopilot, basically a set "Holds" Pitch and Roll Rate. Second option is to add on a "Strain Gauge" or Trim indicator. Both are positioned lower centre panel
     

     
    We will go more into the "AutoRudder" in flight, but if you want to disconnect or activate the the AutoRudder you can do so via the menu option, you can also use the hotspot on the (front) Whiskey Compass to do the same action.
     

     
    The Tailwheel is steerable by the rudder pedals, but if you want a free castoring wheel, you can disconnect it via the "Steerable Tailwheel" option.
     

     
    There is the option to show or hide the pilot. He is fully animated in rudder and pitch (forwards & backwards) and seems to have his hands full in controlling the aircraft, he is very good here and well done.
     

     
    Next in the "options" menu is the "Use Clipboard". In the right side pocket there is a VR (Virtual Reality) clipboard (also clickable).
     

     
    This really the "Fuel & Weights" menu...  as you can adjust the fuel and Pilots, Passenger, Cargo weights by scrolling them in. They can be set in Lbs or Kgs and the "Load", "Empty" (weight) and Full Gross weight can be seen. You can "Save" your settings, and then "Load" them.
     
    Another note is that between flights the Aircruiser will save and reload the same settings to the next flight, until you adjust them.
     
    Last two separate items on the "Options" menu are "Reset AP Tuning" (Autopilot on/off) and "Reset AutoRudder Tuning", resets the rudder position to central.
     
    An option not shown in the menus, is that if the power is switched off, then the chocks are positioned on the front wheels.
     

     
    The second setting of the menu tab is the "GPS Style", here you can select between the Laminar GNS 530 GPS, or one of the two RXP (Realistic) GNS 530 or GNS 750 GPS units if you have that external additional option. I don't have the Realistic option so that install is not visible here. The GPS units are position on the roof forward, with also a default custom style COMM radio above, and a Transponder panel below.
     

     
    - Update v1.1 - Introduced a set of "Floats" for the aircraft. There was actually a Float version of the Aircruiser, notably two aircraft were converted...  noted here as a "Floatplane". The "Float" version can be selected on the "Flight Configuration" menu.
     

     
    "Huge" and chunky floats they are, there is no Amphibian variant (land wheels)
     

     
    The waterborne Aircruiser sits nicely on the water, also moves around on the fluids really well considering the size and weight of the machine. You need those extra huge extra tail fins to keep the aircraft straight.
     

     
    There are several ways to control the water rudder up/down movement. One (the easiest) is to set a keyboard command to "Toggle water rudder", or use the pull (up) or (down) slider on the floor, left behind the flap lever. Water rudder steerage is via your rudder pedals.
     

     
    Float detail is like the rest of the aircraft, exceptionally well done, lovely cleats and perfect cables
    ____________
     
    Flying the Aircruiser 66-75
    You can't at all see out of the Aircruiser, the long nose is way up there, blocking any view, as the tail is way back down there behind you. The only option is to lean very far left to try to see the ground.
     

     
    You would think the Aircruiser being so old-fashioned would be a pain to start, but it's quite benign and easy as long as you do the right procedure. Fuel on "Both", Fuel Pump on, then the most important switch, the "Boost Coil" switch to on. Mixture just to above the (Auto) lean red marker...  then up the "Starter" switch, the prop will turn, then gradually fire into a running engine... 
     

     
    Both the start up and shutdown of the Cyclone SGR-1820 is exceptional, no fast artificial start or shut down here, but it all comes with stutters and engine positions that are very noticeable, as is the churn of the starter motor against the pressures "clock", "clocking" of the starting engine, its a great and a very realistic re-enactment of the starting, and then the stutter of the engine shutting down, I loved it.
     
    I have a horrible history of trying to control tail-draggers, spinning loose tail-wheels have given me loads of grief. But not here though... as mentioned you can disconnect the tail-wheel to be free, if you love that uncontrollable chaos. But for the rest of us the tail-wheel acts through the rudder pedals, but also through the usual "Tiller" yaw. This makes the Aircruiser very easy to manoeuvre around on the ground or on taxiways. Braking and the toe-brakes work normally as well.
     

     
    For once you not fighting the aircraft on the ground to go into the direction you want, but the view internally is hard work to keep it all on the narrow taxiway. So you have a habit of visually taxiing externally until you understand the aircraft more.
     
    Very important is to adjust the rudder trim 50%, or a full winder turn to the right. The SGR-1820 is a very powerful force on takeoff, the asymmetric thrust is huge, it pulls you so hard to the left, that even full rudder is required off the line...
     

     
    The Aircruiser for all it's massive weight is sprightly off the line, your working the pedals to find the right balance to keep the aircraft straight, it does thankfully nicely change direction tail-wise to your inputs, very quickly the tail is up at 40 MPH, and there is tons of lift from those wings, at 60 MPH+ and your now flying. The point from "off the line" to "Airborne" is very short, so no flaps are required, time to adjust your direction is short as well...  so once off the ground I was already veering right away from the runway, I didn't try to correct it, but just went with the flow and climbing turn, then leveled it all out straighter when higher. With practise with your rudder inputs you could keep it in more of a straight line out...  it's a total feel thing, a feel for the aircraft.
     

     
    Pitch trimming is nice, but I recommend a keyboard input than the badly positioned side wall-winder, same for the rudder trim on the roof...
     

       
    You have so much power, the Aircruiser is super fast for an aircraft of this size and age...  it's a very physical aircraft to fly, you use the rudder all the time, then finally finding the right amount of input to keep the aircraft in a straight line, a tough idea, with the amount of asymmetric thrust coming at you all the time. The 66-75, as featured here, could produce up to 730 hp from sea level through 5800 ft, where then the power built higher to ~760 hp
     

     
    Maximum speed is 144 kn (165 mph, 266 km/h), (but it feels far faster), Range is an amazing 608 nmi (700 mi, 1,130 km), and the Service ceiling is 22,000 ft (6,700 m), but the average cruising altitude is around 10,000ft, still fast and high for a 90 year old design.
     

     
    Hangar 23 has provided a tool, called the "AutoRudder function", a sort of A.I. tool to take the strain out of flying the Aircruiser. On the ground the rudder control functions as usual. So it was important to properly trim the aircraft prior to takeoff and landing. In flight, the autorudder system then takes control of the rudder, and will attempt to keep a slip angle as dictated by the yaw axis of the joystick. This allows the pilot to slip the aircraft even while the autorudder is active, such that even crosswind operations become possible with the system active. In other words it flies like the X-Plane tool when you have no yaw axis joystick, the wings are connected to the rudder.
     
    This gauge will merely prompts the pilot on the direction of trim needed to take load off the “servos”. Unlike the autopilot, the autorudder does not disconnect under a high strain, nor is it dependent upon the aircraft’s electrical system to operate (Cable operation).
     
    When activated (via the menu, or Compass)  the autorudder has a visible gauge, located on the yaw trim handle base plate.
     


    If you are going to deactivate the autorudder during normal flight, first adjust the rudder trim according to the strain gauge, otherwise a very sudden and very unpleasant disconnection will occur. It works very well...  but switched off the AirCruiser has a habit of yawing left, almost going around in circles....
     

     
    You can try to trim it out? but it's hard to find a neutral flight, I did find a position input that worked, slight right rudder and slight stick right as well, but it's tiring for any distance, short or long...  the AutoPilot is not much better, tricky to use is to centre the heading.
     

     
    You adjust via the "Roll" or "Up/Dn" switches, as per the three lights, red (left), white (centre) and green (right). But there is a delay in the operation that can make you over trim, I never quite mastered it...  so again even on the Autopilot, I went into a slight bank in left handed circles and couldn't the aircraft fly in a straight line unless under manual control. It's the sort of tool that all of a sudden you will understand it and get it right, with time and persistence. This system is like the Sperry Type A-3A. You will need to trim the aircraft perfectly, so the heading is as close to where you want to go and level, flying as straight as you can, then turn on the AP, trying to trim later while the Autopilot is active is a far harder situation.
     
    -v1.1- In the update a lot of attention was given to pitch stability and improved rudder response, also this adjustment also works better with the "Sparrow" Autopilot, in both manual and automatic orientations the aircraft felt far more stable, more directional, than with the past banking action...  certainly a big improvement in this area.
     
    Lighting
    Lighting internally and externally is basic, which is to be expected. There is one switch for the instrument lights, and another switch for the cabin lights, two spider-web looking ones forward and two roof lights rear, it all looks quite nice at night...
     

     
    The GPS install looks bright and also odd in this old cabin, but it's very well done and easy to use.
     

     
    Externally there are only again two light switches...  Navigation, red, green and white tail, the other light is a left wing mounted Landing light, that look and is quite effective. There are no strobes or beacon lights on the aircraft...
     

     
    Flight notes by Hangar 23 notes "DAY - NIGHT* - VFR...  *Poor visibility and the antiquated aircraft lighting scheme will present additional challenges during night flights". In other words it is not really an aircraft to be flown in the dark...
     
    Sounds...  are a bit of a mixed bag. Overall they are excellent, the startup is an aural experience, and so is shutdown, external engine noises are very good right through the range of power outputs, that's the good. The poor is the buzzy interior sounds, that have a sameness of a consistent droning buzz with no fluctuations, even over a short distance I was distracted or even bored with the noise, The Aircruiser maybe really like that in the air, but I didn't really connect with them. The lower power outputs (on the throttle) are however better. Notable is the Aircruiser engine’s 16:11 gear ratio, for the propeller spins slower than the engine, but all readouts and aural sounds are based on the engine and adjustments should be made according to engine state rather than calculated propeller RPM.
     
    -v1.1- There was a lot of attention to sounds in the v1.1 update...  there was improved cockpit sound origins and changed FMOD engine sounds (which both will be updated incrementally going forward as improvements happen). The developer was at least very responsive to comments, this area certainly needed more better aural sounds.
     
    Time to head back to Shoreham (EGKA). A tricky place to lineup, for the mass of trees around the field. All the runways are hidden from view...
     

     
    ....   if the system is active on final approach, the autorudder will check if the rudder trim has been appropriately set for the upcoming power reduction. If the trim is not suitably centered, the system will intervene and reset the rudder trim to near center. This may be noted by the clicking of the trim’s chain drive, as well as a mild rolling tendency during finals. Myself I turned the automation off to feel the aircraft on the approach phase, plus a single wind of the rudder trim, to reset it as it was on the takeoff phase. The handling felt normal, as did the approach. If however the autorudder is active, then it will disconnect on landing.
     
    Nose up to rub off the speed, as there is no "white flap use zone", I guessed in setting the flaps to below 100 MPH, actually below 90 MPH, and you get a slight lift on each extension...  but the transition now down to 80MPH with now a slight descent into Shoreham it all felt perfect. The flap lever or floor handle is extremely well done. It's both a brake handle and Flap handle in one.
     

     
    Over the coastline, and there is still no visual on the runways. Then finally the field is in view.... so I drop, in also trying to miss the treeline.
     

     
    ...  but I realise I am too high, and becoming too fast in trying to get down to the grass strip. It's still a very good try....  but I have to abort and climb out!
     

     
    I will note the throttle inputs. If the Aircruiser is trimmed (correctly, or well). The Throttle control is very, very good, as you can control the height via the power. Full power to climb out was excellent (after that slight delay), but I found the Aircruiser to be quite normal in the approach/landing phase as any other heavy single-engined General Aviation aircraft. However you have to be aware of the weight around you with using the throttle power, and that tendency to yaw right with the huge power increase, but you soon adapt to the characteristics and the personality of the aircraft... fun? yes immensely, also a challenge to get the skills right in this cockpit.
     
    I didn't want to lose sight of the field layout, now I had found it. So it was a tight turn around back to the other opposite threshold. But be aware that too tight a bank and the Aircruiser will slip badly and lose height towards the lowered wing, there a sweet spot to find in the bank and before the slip starts to emerge, all this is required to get the best rotation of the aircraft.  
     

     
    Lower and slower this time....  and it feels right.
     

     
    Then slowly descend, descend "keep it steady" and I touch around 65 MPH, I am not to worried about the speed, as the Aircruiser on grass will dramatically drag itself slower. Toe brakes are still the best tool to stop the aircraft rotating hard right, then left on you, as this happens once the tail goes down, it's tricky, but with practise it works in keeping you straight... 
     

     
    I'm down, and arrested before the end of the grass strip...  not bad I say.
     
    Liveries
    There are six liveries, one Blank (default), and two liveries that are blank white, but one has a metal nose cover, and another has the same metal nose cover & metal tanks. All are nostalgic except the off soft purple Landmark?
     

    _____________
    Summary
    Extremely rare aircraft are always interesting, this Bellanca Aircruiser or Airbus, is one of the rarest as only 23 aircraft were built between 1930 -1938, it is also the famed "The Flying W" and this hardy design was still flying in Canada well into the 1970's.
     
    Hangar 23 is a not really a new entrant to the X-Plane Developers affiliation, but a ex-TorqueSim developer. And this unusual rare aircraft is their first project for the newly-named studio and the X-Plane Simulator. The Aircruiser is available as two separate packages for both X-Plane 12 (as shown here) and X-Plane 11.
     
    The quality here with the Hangar 23 Bellanca aircraft is very much on show, as it is highly developed and polished. Modeling is absolutely first rate and the detail is highlighted by this experienced and mature developer. As the aircraft is so rare, the detail in the reproduction is simply outstanding, to the point of recreating an era from a long time ago, and with a couple of modern tools thrown in as well, but not to the distraction of the authenticity of the original aircraft. Obviously this is a project of a labour of love, but still delivered with quality and polish.
     
    It is old fashioned in design, but the Aircruiser comes with so modern helpers like a "Sparrow" 2-Axis Autopilot, a custom AutoRudder feature, and GNS 530 GPS, and the option for Realistic RXP GNS 530 or GNS 750 GPS units. Tail-Wheel control can be via X-Plane style commands or free-castoring, that makes this aircraft easy for first time Tail-Dragger aircraft learning. Other options include Strain Gauges, Steerable Tailwheel, a fully animated Pilot and Clipboard with a Weights & Balance menu.
     
    The Aircruisers unorthodox design does make it a challenge to fly, but I have had far worse and more difficult machines to cope with in the past. The helpers of course help, but once you master that huge powerful force forward, the "Shed" like design is oddly very nice and involving to fly. I usually despise Tail-Draggers, but loved the Aircruiser quite a lot, no, a really lot more. The quality performance and well thought out physics, do bring the totally unique experience alive.
     
    Added was a significant update a few weeks after the initial release. This was v1.1, and it included aircraft "Floats", brass markers for the trims, carburettor heat knob and gauge, better sounds and better flight dynamics with improved pitch stability and rudder response. Also added for convenience was the Skunkcrafts Updater.
     
    It is certainly a huge credit to the skills of the developer of what they have delivered here, certainly it is a very unique Simulation, but totally authentic as well, Secondly the release also shows off X-Plane 12's excellent dynamics and quality lighting. The Aircruiser 66-75 is very rare, but you can absorb yourself in this 1930's Golden Era of Aviation, and this aircraft is highly relatable to the same machine created over 90 Years ago....  Highly Recommended. 
    ________________
     

     
    The Aircruiser 66-75 v1.1 by Hangar 23 is now available from the X-Plane.OrgStore!... Here:
     
    Aircruiser 66-75 Price is US$29.95
     
    Requirements
    X-Plane 12 and X-Plane 11   (2 separate packages) Windows or Mac   (Linux not supported) 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version: 1.1 (Feb 15th 2024)
    Download Size: 1.2 GB (each version)   Aircraft download is 1.18Gb, and unpacked, then installed in your X-Plane Aircraft folder 1.38Gb. Authorization on startup is required   Documents X-Plane Aircruiser Handbook.pdf The provided manual is excellent, a lot of detail, installation, setup and flying tips...  even Limitations and Operations.
      Designed by Hangar 23
    Support forum for the Aircruiser 66-75 ________________  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 12.09rc5 (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
    - EGKA - Shoreham - Brighton City Airport by NKdesign (X-Plane.orgStore) US$15.00 ________________  
    Update Review by Stephen Dutton
    12th March 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. Like
    Stephen got a reaction from Busair in NEWS! - Aircraft Updated : FPS Embraer E-195 v1.2.3   
    NEWS! - Aircraft Updated : FPS Embraer E-195 v1.2.3
     

     
    Renamed (from Supercritical Simulations Group) Flight Procedures Simulation, have released an update to their excellent Embraer E-Jet 195. This is version 1.2.3 (not one hard to forget). This is a comprehensive update that covers a lot of adjustments and bug changes that followed on with the aircraft on it's release in July 2023...  the changelog is quite long!
     
    v1.2.3 Changelog - Improved  Sasl code for best performance in FPS - Improved Cockpit, External, PBR and material gloss textures - Improved Speedbrake system that now works with the default X-Plane and/or custom FPS  speedbrake command - Improved Pushback that now removes the chocks when engaged - Improved Flight dynamics and airfoil data (new lift model) - Improved Taxing behavior and land nose gear concerns  - Improved Engine model  with  new Ram compression - Improved Navigation vertical patch drawing - Improved Navigation Display that only show runways above 3400 feet now - Improved FMA RNAV(non precision approach) RNP APP indicators fixed to meet exact the real ones. - Improved Engine TO-1,TO-2, and TO-3 with ALT/TEMP  new calculation for FLEX power - Improved FMC landing speed calculation  that now uses the landing weight prediction and can be called from tablet while in the ground - Improved Flight Director  TAKEOFF that now respects the altitude waypoint speed/turn transition - Improved FMOD sounds like engines, internal cockpit, cabin and external, winds and air cond - Fixed Cabin Differential pressure and  ADV message with a differential value - Fixed Altitude alert sound not working when hit 1000ft to the altitude dailled - Fixed Ice Condition synoptic indicator  that was always visible - Added Chocks object to the external model - Added Thermal textures and cockpit windsheld temp.   The full X-PlaneReviews release review of the FPS E-195 is here: Aircraft Review : Embraer E-195 by Flight Procedures Simulation  
     


     

     
     

     
    Owners of the previous E-Jets by SSG (only the SSG version) can get this FPS E-195 for 20% off. Please find the discount code in your original E-Jets Invoice.
     
    So overall if you want a thoroughly decent E-Jet, without the extreme price, then you can't go past this significantly upgraded E-Jet 195 from Flight Procedures Simulations. You could say it is proven and tested, certainly for the older users of the SSG version, who will quickly settle in and be comfortable in their newer updated surroundings. It is great if a clever update to already a good aircraft, and older purchasers of the previous E-Jets by SSG can get this FPS E-195 for 20% off, and that is a great value deal to upgrade the aircraft to X-Plane 12, and all it's modern features. So the E-195 is highly recommended for that great value price, without sacrificing the quality. ___________________________
     
     
     
    Yes! - the Embraer E-195 by Flight Procedures Simulation v1.2.3 is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here :
     
    FPS Embraer E-195
    Price is On Sale...   US$55.00
     
    Requirements
    X-Plane 12 (not for XP11)
    Windows or  Mac (not compatible with Linux)
    8GB + VRAM Minimum Download Size: 718 MB
    Current version : 1.2.3 (March 1st 2024))   Owners of the previous E-Jets by SSG (only the SSG version) can get this FPS E-195 for 20% off. Please find the discount code in your original E-Jets Invoice.   Designed by Flight Procedures Simulation (ex SSG)
    Support forum for the FPS 195
     
    News by Stephen Dutton
    8th March 2024
    Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews
     
    (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
     

  4. Thanks
    Stephen got a reaction from tbaac in Updated Aircraft Review : Eurocopter EC130 B4 v1.2 X-Plane 12 by HSF   
    Updated Aircraft Review : Eurocopter EC130 B4 v1.2 X-Plane 12 by HSF
     
    The Bell 206 JetRanger changed helicopter operations forever. Before this light rotor craft came on to the scene, then Helicopters were used mainly for Military, Oil or Government operations. But the Bell 206 was reliable and cheap enough to operate in commercial areas. Hence the load of television stations that became the "eyes in the sky", also Fire Police and Customs used the aircraft for their own particular services, but more so was the commercial aspect of personal transport, or the use of helicopters in the field of consumer usage. Not only for heliport to airport transfers, but the flourishing tourism market of which where the real action was... or sightseeing from the air.
     
    Today we take this air tourism market for granted in "Sightseeing Flights", but a few decades ago they were then very compelling and opened up a world to the masses and not only for the rich few. It's big business, go to the Grand Canyon, Nevada and see the huge flightlines of machines, or at any scenic attraction, and there is also a very good chance you will be able to also go for a sightseeing flight.
     
    The Bell 206 dominated this tourism market for decades, it was the perfect machine for the job, so how do you replace it. The French developed the Eurocopter AS350 Écureuil, or Aérospatiale initiated a development programme to produce a replacement for the aging Aérospatiale Alouette II and in so created another iconic helicopter. But for tourism operators the AS350 was slightly too small, so (then Eurocopter, now Airbus Helicopters) had to develop something else for the market. The designed EC130 was achieved in close cooperation with the said tour operators, one such operator, Blue Hawaiian Helicopters was also in being the launch operator; The EC130 has been described as having a spacious cabin for accommodating up to seven tourists and also providing excellent external visibility.
     
    It also created a strange machine in being very wide with it's three forward seats and four rear seat configuration, the pilot flies from the left seat, even a dual operation it puts the second pilot in the middle seat. Another change on the EC130 for safety was the use of the guarded Fenestron anti-torque device in place of a conventional tail rotor, the Fenestron also has unevenly spaced blades to reduce noise generation by 50% compared to a tail rotor; this enabled an FAA Appendix H fly-over noise signature of 84.3 EPNdB, 8.5 dB and below stage two limits. So the EC130 is a quiet machine for operations over densely packed environments.
     


     
    Update v1.2 and v1.2
    This is the second updated review of the EC130. Original release date was the 26th August 2023, a comprehensive update v1.1 was released almost a month later (17th Sept 23), now a third update v1.2 (23rd Oct 23) includes the addition of a Medivac version. Again it made sense to combine all the three versions together, and highlight the changes with the newer updates included. A full changelog is included below.
     
    HeliSimu France are a newly formed (2019) community dedicated to French designed helicopters. The EC130 is their first collaborative venture for the X-Plane 12 Simulator, there will be no X-Plane 11 version of the aircraft. And there is a lot of collaboration going on here, mostly by HSF with a design by highly renowned NemethDesigns. First views of the HSF EC130 are extremely good for a first time developed aircraft. Particularly for a helicopter as the quality and detail in this sphere is, always been extremely high...
     
    The EC130 is a single-engine helicopter. It uses a three-bladed Starflex main rotor which is matched to an enclosed tail fan anti-torque device, known as a Fenestron, the latter feature replacing the traditional tail rotor found on the older AS350. The EC130 uses the Turbomeca Arriel 2D turboshaft engine; the performance of this powerplant 710 kW (950 hp) has led to the type having been described as possessing "better power margins and range than competing models, particularly in hot and high conditions". The B4 is the Initial launch model of the type. First flight 24 June 1999, and 700 aircraft have been built to date.
     
    First of all there are two versions of the aircraft from HSF, one is the standard "Analog" avionics, the second is "G500" for FAR Part 23 Class 1/Class 2 aircraft, dual-screen electronic flight display classification. You select either system from the X-Plane Flight Configuration menu.
     

     
    On the G500 EC-130 aircraft there is also the extra option to install a RealSimGear G500 for a more higher detailed and menu driven avionics version of the unique system.
     
    Detail
    As noted the modeling and design here is by highly renowned NemethDesigns. It shows as the quality is very good, again we will note that helicopters are a level above in quality and detail than the usual aircraft fare in the simulator.
     
    The complex construction of the EC-130 is really well done here, all the panels are all perfect and so are the locking latches, steel/chrome highlights are well done as well. Underside of the fuselage is also highly detailed, highly realistic. Noted as PBR 2K textures, they are very good.
     

     
    The burnt exhaust is very realistic, as is it's complex shape, but the air-vent circular pipes could be more rounded. The Fenestron in flight looks great as is the nicely surrounding sculptured enclosure.
     

     
    The construction detail of the rotor hub is excellent, all rods, tower and joints are perfectly modeled with a cap on top.
     

     
    - Version 1.2 -
    In the v1.0 release the rotor hub was not animated, But now in v1.2 there are fully articulated rotor hub movements, including Collective, Pitch and Roll, by having these elements present in the detail is a pointer to the depth of the design...  The actions here are excellent, as the hub is now fully animated.
     
    Collective

    Pitch

    Roll

     
    ...   on the Fenestron the blades they also simulate the Yaw aspect by movement with the rudder controls.
     

     
    Glass is exceptional, dark thick and beautifully curved and intergrated into the fuselage, notable are the central window panels, that give the aircraft it's width, and excellent skylights set in above, it is a very scenic built forward cabin for sightseeing.
     

     
    So the modeling and detail is excellent, very high quality and very well executed by NemethDesigns. As we go into the cabin, we will look at the menu options as well, because they are related.
     
    Menu
    The Menu is situated upper left panel by clicking a hotspot on the Caution Warning Panel (CWP)...  you can move the menu panel in a semi-circle around you via the arrows, left or right. Obviously this menu system has been created for VR or Virtual Reality users in mind, its easy to use and accessible as well.
     
     
     
    All the four doors can be opened, the left rear is a slider, the right rear an opening dummy door.
     

     
    The seven seats are tall, very thin and built on a metal frame, three front and four rear. The seat construction frames are excellent, and the cabin interior is most all shades of grey with black. nice carpets and the interior is a darkish grey.
     

     
    There are also the various material design options (and colours) from seat covers to changeable seat patterns, via the differently selected livery.
     

     
    Also via the menu you have the option to remove both the forward (two) seats and the full rear four seats.
     

     
    Clever is the use of the X-Plane Weight & Balance menu to add in the pilot and passengers...
     

     
    ....  slide the Pilot weight slider above 50 kgs and he will appear. Slide the "Front" passenger (PAX) to 75 kgs and a passenger will appear, another 75 kgs and a second passenger appears. The same system is used in the rear with the four passengers left to right.
     

     
    - Version 1.1 -
    There are changes to the Weight and Balances menu with the addition of new features in v1.1...  added are four new sliders to cover the weights in "Cargo" and "Basket" loads.
     

     
    There are excellent cargo baskets on each side of the EC130, Adjusting the weight slider (v1.1) and you can now have baggage (cargo) in the baskets, nicely done....   and you can also open the baskets with a hotspot.
     

     
    Another v1.1 change is the addition of opening side cargo (baggage) compartments... like with the Baskets, if you adjust the W&B menu slider you will get internal compartment bags (luggage)
     

     
    Other external options include; Left side Mirror and underside Sling Hook.
     

     
    You can select the Sling Load weight and Object on the X-Plane W&B menu, but there are no objects to load, or provided? Set the weight, turn on the "Sling" selection in the SCU or system control unit...   and the weight is shown on the far left "Sling load Indicator". Externally because there is no object you get a white and red box to lift, In time I would expect real objects to lift. The EC-130's aircraft keel is of high-strength, with chemically milled beams rather than the usual stamped metal, so it's lift capacity is higher. Notable in v1.2, AlpineHoist sling load weight indicator if the plugin is installed (Available with the next version of AlpineHoist)
     

     
    More external options include lower and upper wire cutters...
     

     
    Working "Floats" and rear skid "Bear Paws".
     

     
    Final external option are the "Handling Wheels" again on the rear part of the skid.
     

     
    You can manoeuvre the helicopter by the wheel control panel when you select the Handling wheels selection...  just press the arrow on the direction you want to move, but it is very, very basic...  even primitive in action?  
     
    - Version 1.2 -
    Added into v1.2 update is a full medivac fitout. This includes seating, a stretcher and Medical Equipment bay.
     

     
    The quality and detail of the Medical interior is excellent, really well thought out and executed. The Medical option is selected via the menu or the Medivac Livery. You can also add in the medical flight crew via the same X-Plane/Weights & Balances menu. The crew are all dressed in the correct uniforms of Pilot (black), Doctor and two air Paramedics.
     

     
    It's very versatile as well. Need just the doctor (flying out), then put in a Front Passenger weight below 150 kgs and there is no patient, above 150 kgs, and there he is (flying back). The rear two Paramedics use the same weight system to have one or two medics present...  clever.
     

     
    A Ohio State "MedFlight" livery is also provided, but I expect others to follow.
     

     
    Also added to v1.2 is a very nice GPU (Ground Power Unit) a branded HOBART. It also can be found on the 3d Menu.
     

     
    Instrument Panel - G500
    The Instrument binnacle is huge, but still small in this wide cockpit... set to the far left it is very well done here in look and detail. Black on black, it is quite dark internally.
     

     
    There are the two layout configurations as noted... Analog and G500, we will look first at the G500.
     

     
    And it has built-in a "Synthetic Vision" feature that is excellent, the best Synthetic I have seen yet. The G500 avionics package is designed specifically for FAR Part 23 Class 1/Class 2 aircraft (singles and twins less than 6,000 lbs.), G500 system is an affordable, dual-screen electronic flight display that works with your avionics stack to provide a fully certified “glass cockpit” retrofit option.
     
    Dual 6.5" LCDs are mounted side-by-side in the bezel, put both the Primary Flight Display (PFD) and Multifunction Display (MFD) capabilities directly in your field of view to help streamline instrument scanning. There is real-time True Airspeed calculations and selectable Winds Aloft data as well as aircraft ground speed, GPS active waypoint, distance-to-waypoint, desired/actual track, and more.
     
    PFD consolidates all primary situational information regarding your aircraft’s position are in tapes, speed, attitude, vertical rate, altitude and flight progress. plus Nav 1, Nav 2 and GPS data.
    This version from HSF is very, very good, but you can also install a payware version as noted from RealSimGear G500. There is a provided folder and instructions in the package to install the RealSim G500 version correctly.
     
    The left display MFD provides detailed moving-map graphics of your aircraft’s current position in relation to ground features, chart data, navaids and more. TCAS and Weather overlay (X-Plane) are both supported. On the HSF version I couldn't see the flightplan tools, and too a point the MFD is a little basic here, but more detail may follow.
     
    How to use the G500, I will cover in the flying section of this review, it is a one knob operation, clever.
     
    v1.1 Added is a Toggle custom command for the starter and hydraulic switch, mostly for home cockpit builders, but also for a button press start on your keyboard.
     
    VEMD - Vehicle and Engine Management Display
    Aérospatiale helicopters use the excellent VEND (Vehicle and Engine Management Display) system. It is a two display (Upper & Lower) arrangement with screen options available via right side buttons, on power up you will get a test loop of the system.
     

     
    Upper screen shows two displays, "Starting" and in "Flight".
     

     
    Shown on the upper "Starting" display is; Fuel gauge, Fuel quantity, Bleed valve flag, Starting T4 indication, Torque indication NG and delta NG indication, VEND caution messages and OAT (Outside Temperature). On the "Flight" display is; Fuel gauge, Fuel quantity, Bleed valve flag, In flight T4 indication, Torque indication, NG and delta NG indications and OAT.
     
    On the lower "Flight" display is more flight performance data; Engine oil temperature, Engine oil pressure, Voltage ( Battery and Generator), Generator amperage, Fuel Flow and Endurance in hours.
     

     
    When you shut down the Ec-130, the lower VEND display will create a "Flight Report", incuding; Total flight number(s), Last flight duration, Last flight N1 and N2 cycles, Total N1 and N2 cycles and a Over-limit indication if detected during the flight.
     

     
    What is missing from this HSF system is the "Test" routines for the VEND system and displays, and you miss that visual (and colourful) test loop (There is a static test, but not the animated loop testing), and most of the buttons on the two displays are false, except for ON/OFF, Reset and Brightness?
     
    Analog Panel
    Besides the G500 Avionics you also have a standard analog instument package, this layout is excellent with instruments; Caution Warning Panel (CWP), NR indicator (rotor/ N2 speed) 3 way Emergency switch, Standby Horizon, Gyro slaving control, indicated air speed (kts), Pilot Horizon, Altimeter (ft), large Radio Altimeter (ft), HSI (Horizontal Situation Indicator), Variometer (ft/min), Clock/Chronometer, HSI source switch, lower Cockpit Lightings Knobs and NAV 1 GPS.
     

     
    Switiching Avionics (G500 - Analog) changes the display (slightly). The Airspeed and Altimeter become lower panel backup instruments, and the Lighting Panel is moved to the right hand side. A custom instrument is the NR (Top Left) Indicator, which shows the rotor speed and the N2 engine speed, Low NR will send alarm sounds in the headset if NR is under 360 rpm, and high NR alarm sounds in the headset if the NR is above 410 rpm. There is also an "Electric Emergency Switch" (Emer SW), that switches off all DC power, except vital power consumers.
     

     
    There are two other instrument menu options with the Artificial Horizons (main and backup), as they can be the switched between a Floating Globe, or Electronic Horizon instrument. I prefer the nicer Floating Globe option.
     

     
    The other (menu) option is to install the SAS (Stability Augmentation System), which is basically a Helicopter Autopilot System. It is situated below the GNS 430 GPS unit.
     

     
    Lower console is really well done, with a Garmin GMA 340 radio top, Bendix/King NAV 2 radio centre and Garmin GTX 327 Transponder unit bottom.
     

     
    The lower console has the "SCU" or System Control Unit, with a multitude of operations, including; Battery on (bat epu and dct/bat work together), Generator on, Horn (low NR and high NR alarms in the headset), Cockpit light, Avionics on, Generator reset, Anti-Collision light, Nav lights, Fuel pump, System lights, Instruments lights, Pitot heat, Sand filter, Sling load indicator, Taxi & Landing lights, Floats arm on, Crank engine, Warning lights test, Fire test and Servo test. Pressing the W/L switch will test the Caution Warning Panel (CWP), VEND and SCU, like I mentioned earlier it is only a lights test here, not a VEND system test?
     

     
    You have (more) options for changing the Avionics in replacing the GNS 430, and the Analog Radio/NAV 2/Transponder with a Reality XP GNS 430W and Reality XP GTN 750 Touch on the main panel and upper console, if you own those external options, and then the switching can be done in the menu.
     

     
    There is the option to use the AviTab, positioned on the far right of the instrument panel, the plugin is of course required.
     

     
    The option for a "Single" or "Dual" controls (Cyclic and Collective) is also available via the Menu.
     

     
    You can "Lock" the Cyclic by pressing the base plate...  the Collective has a huge amount of active functions available, including; Landing light, Inflate floats, Hydraulic switch, Taxi light, Wiper, VEND scroll function, Landing light pitch, Twist (Throttle) grip in idle or flight positions and Collective Lock. The Huge massive two section Wiper is an option, and the switch is hard to find, but it is situated far left on the collective handle.
     

     
    Above you are four very nice Bose headsets... click for sounds and instrument warnings! The "Rotor Brake" lever (apply below 170 rpm rotor speed) and the Fuel shut off lever and Fuel shut off lever guard are all situated forward roof.
     

     
    Added in v1.1...  is that the aircraft registration is now noted on the top of the instrument panel, it changes with the applied livery registration.
     

    ______________
     
    Flying the EC130 B4
    Helicopters are all about feel, mostly in the controls. Get it right and it a glorious place to be, get it wrong, and your struggling with the machine. The type of machine helps as well. Big heavy helicopters are more gentile, easier to fly, but light helicopters can be tricky and nasty. The AS350 can be like that, it will take smooth control and minimum inputs to get it right...  so where does the EC130 stand, well in the middle, with more a benign nature, than a hairy jiggling machine. Yes a novice could fly this EC130 B4, it is nice enough and benign enough to warrant that. But it does have its odd characteristics.
     
    Changed in v1.1 is the Rotor animation...  to a smoother rotor blur or a more realistic rotor movement, very nice it is. There is also the allowance now of Rotor blur on both blades sides, it also allows you to customise each side differently, but there are no notes on how to do this? Another note is that the Fmod external sound has been increased, and so has the doors (open) sound in external view.
     

     
    Taking off and the Yaw (rudder) feel is odd, there is thrust, then give the rudder more right foot and the thrust becomes less, then kicks in higher in a boost that sends you in the opposite direction (twirling). But I eventually controlled the yaw oddities, even got a low hover in place above the pad without drifting...  then a forward motion (in the direction I wanted to go)...  so the EC130 not (thankfully) one of those sweary impossible machines to fly.
     

     
    Find your groove and the machine is very good, nice to fly once you have settled the angle of forward flight to the altitude.
     

     
    An option you have is to switch on the "Vibrations", so you don't need an external "Effects" plugin to get realistic movements...  and I really like them, nice movements, without not being too severe or silly, if you don't like them, you can "Kill" the effect in the Menu.
     
    The famous Matterhorn looms in the scenic windshield as I try to gain as much height as I can... 
     

     
    The rate of Rate of climb is 9 m/s (1,800 ft/min), a Cruise speed of 237 km/h (147 mph, 128 kn), with a Never exceed speed of 287 km/h (178 mph, 155 kn) over a Range of 606 km (377 mi, 327 nmi), or 4 Hours endurance. Service ceiling is a remarkable 7,010 m (23,000 ft) with a Hover ceiling IGE of 3,429 m (11,250 ft). So the EC130 is a very capable machine.
     
    Manual hands on flying is easy, not at all tiring as some Helicopters are, they require a lot of concentration, physical tension to keep the movement and motion going forward... but not here, its a nice aircraft to fly, hands on the controls, as I hate aircraft you have to fight all the time, but that is not what you get here. v1.1 brings even more Improved flight "Stability", a more hands on feel from the machine, and yes it is improved.
     
    Notable is that HSF recommend 6 Flight Models per Frame, on the X-Plane/General Menu page, and I will confirm that action for a smoother flight and less weight on your framerate.
     
    Sounds, quite brilliant with FMOD 2...  All the startup whines and the blades cutting the air, with the howl of the turbine Arriel 2D in the background, the blade slap is good as well if you dip or turn too fast, in cruise it is excellent, but I can't hear any doppler sounds.
     

     
    My aim is to get over that ridge and into clear air...
     

     
    ...  now that is done we will look at the G500. The operations here are in conjunction with the SAS (Stability Augmentation System)
     
    It is a nice simple system, select your operation from; HDG (Heading) CRS (Course), ALT (Altitude), V/S (Vertical Speed) and BARO from the left selections, then adjust the knob for that selection, a single handed operation...  clever, very easy to use!
     

     
    Only two notes, one be careful you react to the right selection if connected to the SAS, otherwise the helicopter will go bananas, its easy to do, as I did did it not once but twice. Second is how to use the V/S selection? No tutorial manual (or video) makes it hard to use? BARO can be set in both hPa and inches Hg.
     

     
    The SAS is very good, clean entry and exits to the system, and it is very easy to use. But you need brighter operation lights, you can't see which selection is selected in the daylight? The SAS selections are not noted in the G500 either.
     

     
    v1.1...  the SAS selection operation lights have been brightened in the update, it is far better to to your selections now. Also the tail beacon strobe light is brighter.
     

     
    Two final v1.1 notes include an Analog Barometer setting bug fix and a Autopilot disconnecting bug fix. Notes for v1.2 include a HeliSAS heading mode behaviour Fix, RealSimGear G500 slip indicator Fix and a RealSimGear G500 autopilot NAV mode Fix.
     
    Lighting
    Lighting is good, but not brilliant....   The instruments can be faded by a 3 way dim switch...
     

     
    ...   two knobs adjust the backup instruments, and the VEND/G500 surround highlight buttons.
     

     
    There are two rear DOME lights, but they are not very effective? Certainly no use for MAP reading, or for even lighting the rear compartment.
     

     
    v1.1...  as noted above the internal lighting was average. But in the update it has had attention. The Instrument lighting has now more adjustment, meaning far brighter, and much more nicer it is, the G500 panel lightning has also had a bug fix.
     

     
    The overhead DOME lights have had adjustment as well, again far brighter... but I still think a couple of overhead spot (map reading) lights would be nice or more useful.
     
    External lighting is basic...  A large Landing light, then a Taxi light is set behind it. Navigation lights are small, but the nice Anti-Collision beacon on the top of the tail is good.
     

     
    v1.1...  external lighting has had adjustment as well, all lights are brighter (it needed more brightness), and the landing light has more pitch as well (and now works in the replay).
     

     
    All in all the Eurocopter EC130 B4 by HSF is an excellent first release, yes there are a few areas to still or could be developed deeper, but the basics are all really good here, modeling, flight dynamics and it comes with a huge feature list...  It's nice to fly, unusually for both the Pro's and the Novices, basic Helicopter flight is always a challenge, but this aircraft will at least meet you halfway.... 
     

    _______________
     
    Liveries
    There are 29 liveries! a lot, with most current EC130 operators provided. Liveries are all of a high quality and are brilliantly presented. We can't show you them all, but here is a small selection. The aircraft including the individual liveries all use "XPersistence".
    Which is a plugin for X-Plane 12 which adds persistence by saving some datarefs at the end of a flight and restores them at the beginning of the next one. The datarefs are all saved individually per livery and with the options selected.
     

     
    V1.1...  Two new liveries have been added in the update; C-GPHF Phoenix Heli-Flight and F-GXPG Private Owner...  Also there is a new paintkit, with or without dirtiness.
     

    _______________
    Summary
    The Eurocopter EC130 was created basically for one major role, Sightseeing and Tourism, hence its ultra-wide cabin and seven seat arrangement. The spacious cabin also makes the machine a great Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) aircraft as well. It was a role created initially by the venerable Bell 206 JetRanger. But the EC130 was developed to be a larger and faster Eurocopter AS350 Écureuil. Built around the Turbomeca Arriel 2D turboshaft engine and a Fenestron anti-torque device in place of a conventional tail rotor, the EC130 B4 first flew 24 June 1999, and to date 500 aircraft have been built.
     
    HeliSimu France are a newly formed (2019) community dedicated to French designed helicopters. The EC-130 is their first collaborative venture for the X-Plane 12 Simulator, there will be no X-Plane 11 version of the aircraft. Design and modeling is by highly renowned NemethDesigns, the quality and detail is therefore very good.
     
    Helicopters in X-Plane are certainly some of the best simulations in the simulator, complex and usually come with a load of options and features, that aspect is well delivered here. The menu is simple (popout 3d) but loaded with detail.
     
    All the usual features are here, Opening doors, doors removal, cargo baskets (2), underside Sling Hook, Mirrors, Wire cutters, single or twin controls and a great Weight & Balance Menu is used to add in a Pilot and six Passengers.
    Also are there two versions with either the glass version G500 or Analog avionic choices, and options for the addon RealSim G500 and Reality XP GNS 430W, Reality XP GTN 750 Touch intergration. Vibration Effects and AviTab are also included. The VEND (Vehicle and Engine Management Display) system is also very good, but not as deep in systems as seen in others.
     
    The Fenestron system is unusual to fly and use (Yaw thrust), but overall the aircraft is very good for Novices and Pro's alike, with a good SAS (Stability Augmentation System) to help out on longer flights. Sounds are universally very good as well, with all the required aural alarms.
     
    Obviously the Eurocopter is a collaboration of French Helicopter enthusiasts, certainly the people were focused for good detail, as this is an extremely good first release. Nothing is perfect, certainly a few areas in the VEND, G500 and the internal lighting could have more depth, Object provided for hoisting and physical cargo...   and a tutorial manual would also be a good addition as well considering the complex aircraft systems.
     
    Notable is the v1.1 update (17th September 23). It brought New opening side Cargo doors, with 3d baggage and for the side baskets, better rotor blur and animation, and various internal and external lighting improvements, and now this new update v1.2, that adds in a Medivac interior and Medical crew, also added was the Ground Power Unit and Rotor hub animations.
     
    But overall the EC500 B4 is excellent, another brilliant machine to use and to fly regularly. The X-Plane Simulator always did lead the simulation market with excellent Helicopter designs with a lot of features, this one from the French Developers is another one to savour and certainly to invest in, great value price as well....
     
    Highly Recommended!
    ________________________________________
     

     
    The Eurocopter EC130 B4 by HSF is now available from the X-Plane.OrgStore!... Here: 
     
    Eurocopter EC130 B4 Price is US$27.95
     
    Requirements
    X-Plane 12 (not for XP11)
    Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Size: 1.11 GB Current version: 1.2 (October 23rd 2023)   Designed by Ceds from HSF (Heli Simu France) Support forum for the EC 140 B4 _____________   Installation and documents:  download for the EC130 B4 is 1.16Gb and the aircraft is deposited in the "Helicopter" X-Plane folder.
    Full Installation is 1.33GB
     
    Full version v1.2 changelog
    EC 130 v1.2 changelog.txt
     
    AviTab Plugin is required for this aircraft
     
    Documents supplied is:
    1 HSF EC130 B4 Introduction.pdf 2 HSF EC130 B4 Configurations.pdf 3 HSF EC130 B4 Normal Procedures.pdf 4 HSF EC130 B4 Normal Procedures Printable white version.pdf 5 XPersistence Plugin.pdf 6 HSF EC130 B4 Acknowledgements.pdf 7 HSF EC130 B4 End User License Agreement.pdf 8 HSF EC130 B4 G500 RSG installation.pdf Eight documents cover setup, configurations and general options on the aircraft available, details for XPersistence Plugin is also provided, as is the installation details for the RealSim G500. No Tutorial, which is a small annoyance as the systems are complex to a novice.
     
    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 12.06b4 (This is a beta review).
    Plugins: Traffic Global - JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00
    Scenery or Aircraft
    - Alps UHD XP12 by Frank Dainese and  Fabio Bellini.- (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$49.95
    _____________
     
    Updated Aircraft Review by Stephen Dutton
    24th October 2023
    Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews
     
    (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
     

     
    EC 130 v1.1 changelog.rtf
  5. Like
    Stephen got a reaction from FWIW in Aircraft Update : vSkylabs C-47 Skytrain v6.0b2 and DC-3 Airliner v2.0b2   
    Aircraft Update : vSkylabs C-47 Skytrain v6.0b2 and DC-3 Airliner v2.0b2
     
    Midway though 2017. Established developer vSkylabs released a classic aircraft for the X-Plane Simulator in the form of the Douglas Commercial 3, or DC-3 as it affectionately became known. The earlier release was of the C-47 variant, or the military "Skytrain" version that won World War ll. Well the aircraft had a big part in winning the logistics side of the war. But in reality the main success of the C-47 was post-war with the huge surplus of these ex-military aircraft becoming an aviation legacy that will never be repeated.
     
    The earlier vskylabs C-47/DC-3 aircraft was an analog design,  but that all changed around Christmas 2022, when the aircraft was then divided into three separate variants...  The original C-47 Skytrain, a new DC-3 Airliner and the forthcoming Tri-Turbo-Three, In context;
     
    VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot': C-47B Skytrain: Highly defined C-47B simulation of the 30's-50's era; authentic WWII era cockpit, powered by PW1830-90C two speed supercharged engines, Astrodome, cargo loading, operational weights of the C-47's and more. Includes two variants - C-47B and XC-47C (float plane).
     
    VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot': DC-3 Airliner: (this model) Highly defined DC-3 simulation, a modernized C-47A restoration, with modernized cockpit; 3-display G1000 cockpit, powered by PW1830-92 engines, passengers cabin configuration and loading system. 
     
    VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot': Tri-Turbo-Three: (Available soon) Highly defined DC-3 turbo-conversion based and inspired by the Conroy Tri-Turbo-Three conversion. 
     
    The "DC-3 Airliner" split included a move to a glass Laminar Research default G1000 three display panel installation, which in my opinion is going away from the original philosophy of a pre-war designed aircraft. It is very good in this guise, but what if you still wanted the original "DAK". Well that is the original C-47B Skytrain variant, as the C-47B is a simulation of the 30's-50's era with an authentic WWII era cockpit, powered by PW1830-90C two speed supercharged engines, and the aircraft (unlike the DC-3 Airliner) is available for both X-Plane 11 and X-Plane 12.
     
    Both variants have now received updates a week apart, v6.0b2 for the C-47, and v2.0b2 for the DC-3 Airliner. There is a good 95% compatibility of the changes between the two aircraft, the other 5% is noted in separate changes to the Airliner variant in this update review.
     
    The vSkylab philosophy is that you are purchasing an ongoing project, so any aircraft you purchase is not fully completed or is completed to 100%, that is the deal you sign up for to get access to the aircraft, and all the development is free and ongoing throughout the X-Plane 12 version. These projects are under constant development: the development road-map is including flight model refinements, enhanced systems depth, additional liveries and other improvements.
     
    But first let us have a quick look at the two aircraft.
     
    C-47 Skytrain
     

     
    Over the years, the vSkylabs C-47 has evolved quite considerably since it's debut back in 2017, in fact not much of the internal design has survived. Some aspects I miss, like the very worn window surrounds, but overall the original design and great modeling has survived very much intact, that Dakota aspect is also still very strong. Bonuses currently is the much higher quality of the design with the changes and PBS effects, certainly now with X-Plane 12, were as the aircraft has a far more realistic feel to the eye. There are no menus with vSkylabs aircraft, so everything is accessed via "Hotspots", but they are cleverly done.
     
    The cockpit is the antique look of the post-war era, but if you have checked out the earlier C-47, it is a huge and significant difference in detail and change. The X-Plane 12 infused lighting is also a huge bonus on the overall feel and look of the iconic cockpit.
     

     
    The Sperry Type A-3A autopilot is thankfully still installed here, but added in is also a few mod-cons, like the S-Tec Fifty Five X autopilot, and the two Garmin GNS530 GPS units (they drop down mid-window)...  another thankful retention from the original aircraft, which is the huge middle windscreen "bouncy wouncy" authentic whisky compass.
     
     
     
    Although a significant improvement over the original release, the cabin is still pretty basic in design, it could do (or is due) with another overhaul to make it more authentic like what was done to the "Airliner" variant, or a cargo aspect would be nice.
     

     
    DC-3 Airliner
     

     
    Put side by side and there are some quite considerable differences between the two aircraft variants. Externally it is the same "Dak", but in the cockpit it feels and looks very different with the Laminar G1000 Avionics in place, the panels eyebrows are different as well. It's also a greeny-blue in here, more than the older darker green diamond blanket look of the post-war aircraft.
     

     
    It is a taste thing, some will like the modern approach, a lot would probably like the earlier darker feel...  the Laminar G1000 displays pop-out as well, but only one of each panel, for the PFD (Primary Flight Display) and the centre single MFD (Multi-Functional Display).
     
    In other changes the two GNS 530 GPS units are gone and so is the large whiskey compass, to be replaced by a smaller (non-floating) version on the top of the instrument panel, another item is the massive window de-mist piping, once on the C-47 (as an option) but removed to the DC-3 variant, personally I didn't like it? as it significantly blocked a lot of the view out of the front windows.
     

     
    Cabin has the different diamond padding and colour, and very realistic 3d passengers, very good they are as well. But the seats are actually the same as in the C-47. There is full review of the DC-3 Airliner release here; Aircraft Release : DC-3 Airliner by vSkyLabs
     

     
    Updates v6.0b2 C-47, and v2.0b2 DC-3 Airliner
    Common changes to both aircraft in these companion updates is with the New "Mixture and Carburetor" systems, here now replicating the C-47/DC-3 mixtures operation with better authenticity.
     
    Mixture levers are now set in 'steps' with; (Idle-)Cutoff, Auto-Lean, Auto-Rich and Emergency positions. So the text is still there, but now not just for show...  they actually work with the mixture lever setting.
     

     
    Auto-lean and auto-rich are fully automatic modes, with separate control for each engine. To take advantage of the mixture lever settings, you have to set them to different axis modes...  the Left-Engine mixture lever is set to the "Wing Sweep" axis, and the Right-Engine axis is set to the "Thrust Vector" axis...  I set those settings here with the Saitek X-56 Throttle, I don't have extra levers on the add-on throttle, but only knobs, but it worked fine.
     

     
    You do have another option, that is to lock both mixture levers together. Press the area side-plate, and the right mixture lever knob turns yellow to signify that the levers are now locked, to unlock just press the side-plate again. In this locked guise, the left lever controls both. So the "Thrust Vector" action will now move both levers together.
     

     
    The lock set up however does also allow you to use both Saitek throttle levers, with the left "Throttle" setting, and the right "Mixture" setting, but you can't adjust both of the Throttles separately (you can't anyway) or the Mixture levers separately...  of course any lever can be set manually, or to be used hands on. Personally I like my Throttles separate... the reason I found was the Dakota has a habit of drifting to the right over a longer distance, so a slight reduction of power on the right engine (or more power to the left engine) would keep you more on the heading.
     
    The new fuel system in these updates now allows you full control of all four tanks, feeding into each engine in separately...
     

     
    This is done by the cocks/valves each side of the pedestal, with each noting the L Main, R Main, L AUX, R AUX and OFF.
     

     
    Shown here in the OFF and MAINs running, with L-R cocks opposite, all four tanks all are accessible, here with accessing the only the L-Tank, and R-AUX.
     

     
    Reading any tank capacity is via a switch lower right Instrument Panel, which is totally authentic. Fixes in the update relate to the Fuel level indicator, which is now equipped with a shifting-plate, showing the designated tank in each mode, and the Fuel level indicator needle 3-d and animation has been changed to provide better a reading, and to be more accurate.
     

     
    But currently when feeding each engine from the Aux tanks (from the same side or opposite sides), the Aux tank with the higher remaining fuel quantity will feed both engines, until both Aux tanks are equal. Then, both tanks will feed both engines. This is an (X-Plane) limitation and changes are coming (from Laminar Research) to rectify this restriction. Fuel capacity is - Main tank (front) each - 202 U.S. galls. Auxiliary tank (rear) each 200 U.S. galls. Total each side: 402 U.S. galls, with total 804 U.S. galls fuel capacity.
     
    Carburetor air-intake heat controls now also work...  Two levers top right pedestal controls the carburetor heating, for the left and right engines. The third (lock) lever is a dummy. Oddly it works back to front, forward is COLD, rearwards is HOT, or the rear selection brings the heated air from around the cylinder heads into the induction system to clear the ice, or for running in very cold temperatures.
     

     
    Carb heat is shown far right centre Instrument Panel C-47, and lower dead centre Panel DC-3 Airliner.  
     

     
    What we are talking about here are authentic or realism in these operations. Yes a lot of aircraft have the same options, but these systems are created to be very authentic to the operation of the DC-3.
     
    The huge pitch trim wheel has been totally redone, or re-modeled to be more authentic to the real one. I personally would like more dirt, wear and tear on the wheel, it is supposed to be over 80 years old, but it looks like it came out the spares store yesterday.
     

     
    The cockpit PBR (Physically based rendering) and tone has been updated in both aircraft, bringing it up to X-Plane 12 specifications. We are now in X-Plane 12.06 and that comes with the better lighting adjustments, it shows in here as the detail now just jumps out at you...  a far cry from the past vSkylabs cockpit environments. (note we are now actually in XP12.07r1, but it was in X-Plane 12.06 that the lighting adjustments were made).
     

     
    It's a quirky machine to fly is the DC-3/C-47...  It is always a good idea to do a quick look through the (very explainable manual) in what is what, and how all the quirks work.
    Like the gear...  as it is a two-operation, operation. You have to unlock (or lock) the gear up or down. This is done by the lever on the floor, before you can raise or lower the undercarriage.
     

     
    You also have to check (via the large Hydraulic Pressure gauges) if the pressure is working for gear operation. If all fails there is a manual gear pump to do the action, it is set behind the cockpit.
     
    There is also the two engine-driven pumps to operate the vacuum system. They provide air suction for the operation of the artificial horizon, directional gyros and turn indicator. Check suction indicator on automatic pilot instrument panel for vacuum indication of 3375" ti 4.25". Again very authentic to the post-war aircraft.
     

     
    It's a tricky aircraft to fly as well. You use a lot of rudder movement on takeoff to keep control, mostly far worse are the exaggerated movements required once the tail lifts. In the air it is a lot to handle as well, but you will soon get the feel of this very big taildragger design.
     
    Once you settle the "Dak", then it comes into it's own... but flights are usually long, because they are low and slow by modern, even regional propeller aircraft standards.
     
    You get a Maximum speed of 200 kn (230 mph, 370 km/h) at 8,500 ft (2,590 m), a cruise speed around 180 kn (207 mph, 333 km/h). But the range is excellent at 1,370 nmi (1,580 mi, 2,540 km) (maximum fuel, 3500 lb payload), but you get there very slowly, the Service ceiling is 23,200 ft (7,100 m), or regional propeller driven aircraft altitude...  climbing is with a Rate of climb: 1,130 ft/min (5.7 m/s), but usually around 1,000 ft/min.
     
    The odd thing is I have had some really brilliant epic Journeys in this aircraft (maybe because they took so long), but thoroughly enjoyable. Maybe this is why I'm a little bit defensive on in there being too many changes away from the original concept of the DC-3.
     

     
    The Sperry Type A-3A autopilot is something I love. So adding in the S-Tec is going against my grain. Saying that it works very well, the Sperry is also very tricky to use...  If connected to the S-Tec then the heading is adjusted by the RUD (Rudder) knob and the upper compass drum, but tricky is the alignment of the heading as the lower compass drum is adjustable...
     

     
    ...   so the lower compass drum needs to be aligned with the main whisky compass. You do this by pressing the centre of the lower adjustment knob, known as "Cageing" or Cage, and that will align the two compasses together. If the lower drum is out of alignment, it gets seriously confusing on where your heading actually is, or set.
     

     
    If you want fly on the Sperry alone you still can. And the heading is adjusted manually by moving the AIL (Aileron) knob to bank the aircraft to the new heading and then adjusting it back again to keep the heading. In both adjustments the heading can still be very vague, but as noted...  adjusting the throttles or power outputs on the engines can keep you on the heading a bit tighter.
     

     
    Odds in the updates includes a better (or brighter) tail beacon, the landing/taxi lights also now have that X-Plane 12 flare look as well...
     

     
    ...  DC-3 Airliner only changes include Fuel pumps sounds tuneups, which now have reduced intensity (sounds overall are excellent). Also the DG sync, and a manual sync is now possible with the use of the sync-knob.
     
    Back at Keflavík BIKF, and I'm on approach. I'm not going to say the DC3 is an easy aircraft fly, because it isn't, even demanding. It takes skill to get it all right, and is a big challenge to your perspective. But that is also the attraction, the wanting to fly the aircraft again and again...
     

     
    ....   my advice is to get in there, stay in there and learn it thoroughly. The systems, the odd handing traits, and yes...  even do a lot of practise. But when the aircraft comes to you, you'll be glad you did all the time and effort...  it is an authentic all round experience.
     
    Summary
    vSkyLabs have updated their C-47 and DC-3 Airliner to versions v6.0b2 for the C-47, and v2.0b2 for the DC-3 Airliner. This is after the earlier three way split of the original 2017 release of the C47/DC3 into three different variants; C-47 Skytrain, DC-3 Airliner and the coming Tri-Turbo-Three.
     
    The update covers about a good 95% compatibility of the changes between the two aircraft, the other 5% is noted in a separate change to the Airliner variant in this update review, these include different FMOD pump sounds and DG - Sync.
     
    The main changes are with new mixtures, carburetor system algorithm and mixture control is now also fully differential. Fully automatic. Mixture levers have now working detents (steps) for 'cutoff', 'auto-lean', 'auto-rich', emergency, and all auto-modes are fully automatic. New fuel system now allows to feed each engine from any of the four tanks, and the Carburetor heat system and levers are now also operable. Both aircraft have a lot of attention on the PBR (Physically based rendering) and tone of the internal areas to make them ultra realistic.
     
    It's sweet set of updates to an iconic aircraft. There is as noted a very authentic feel to these pre-war designed aircraft, with a few modern twists in the systems. My preference is still the analog C-47, it recreates the era, and has that Type A-3A autopilot as an added attraction. In X-plane 12, with it's more advances lighting, effects and features....   the original release C-47/DC-3 feels very far away now and the aircraft with it's current updates reflect that aspect.
     
    Go low and slow for a long flight, and you will love the "Dak" in all it's post war glory...  it's an excellent simulation of the most iconic aircraft in the world. Currently both the vSkylab's C-47/DC3 Airliners are 50% off in a sale...
    ___________________________
     

     
    The C-47 Skytrain v6.0b2/DC-3 Airliner v2.0b2 by VSkyLabs Flying Lab Project is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here :

    VSKYLABS C-47 Skytrain
    Your Price: US$34.95
    Currently on sale for $17.45 or 50% OFF.
    Requirements
    X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version:  6.02 (September 14th 2023)   VSKYLABS DC-3 Airliner
    Your Price: US$34.95
    Currently on sale for $17.45 or 50% OFF.
    Requirements
    X-Plane 12 Only (not compatible with X-Plane 11) Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version:  2.0b2 (September 19th 2023) ___________________________
     
    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 12.07b1 (This is a beta review).
    Plugins: Traffic Global - JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00
    Scenery or Aircraft
    - BIKF - Airport Keflavik by Aerosoft- (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$19.20
    _____________
     
    Update Aircraft Review by Stephen Dutton
    23rd September 2023
    Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews
     
    (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
     

     
  6. Thanks
    Stephen got a reaction from Cami De Bellis in Aircraft Review : JRX Design Bell 407 v1.30 for X-Plane 11 and 12   
    Aircraft Review : JRX Design Bell 407 v1.30 for X-Plane 11 and 12  
     
    A derivative of the Bell 206L-4 LongRanger, Bell 407 is a four-blade, single-engine, civil utility helicopter that uses the four-blade, soft-in-plane design rotor with the composite hub developed for the United States Army's OH-58D Kiowa Warrior, instead of the two-blade, semi-rigid, teetering rotor of the 206L-4. So the breed line is from the famous "Jetranger", but the 407 is the far bigger and powerful relation to the family.
     
    The Bell 407's fuselage is 8 inches (20 cm) wider, increasing internal cabin space, and includes 35% larger main cabin windows. The more powerful Rolls-Royce/Allison 250-C47 turboshaft allows an increase in Maximum Takeoff Weight and improves performance at hotter temperatures and/or higher altitudes. The helicopter has standard seating for two crew and five cabin seats.
     

     
    In 1993, Bell began the development of the New Light Aircraft as a replacement for its Model 206 series. The program resulted in the 407, a development of Bell's LongRanger. A 206L-3 LongRanger was modified to serve as the 407 demonstrator. The demonstrator used hardware for the 407 and added molded fairings to represent the 407's wider fuselage then under development.
     
    The demonstrator was first flown in 1994, and the 407 program and was publicly announced at the Heli-Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada, in January 1995. The first 407 prototype (C-GFOS) then accomplished its maiden flight on June 29, 1995, and the second prototype (C-FORS) followed on July 13, 1995. After a short development program, the first production 407 (C-FWQY/N407BT) flew on November 10, 1995. Since then almost 1500+ aircraft have been built.
     
    In 2021, only three years ago JRX Design started in the X-Plane Simulator with the dual SA 341B and SA 342J Gazelle, then their next release was the Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm Bo 105 DBS-4, a big name, but also a lot of helicopter, which was updated only 12 months ago to X-Plane 12. All sensational and quality designs.
    This is JRX's latest release with the Bell 407. Notable is that the release(s) are separate for both the X-Plane 12 version or the X-Plane 11 version, as they are not packaged together here. We will of course focus on the XP12 version for the review, in details the X-Plane 11 is identical, but missing the X-Plane 12 dynamic features.
     
    This is not the first Bell 407 for X-Plane. That was the excellent Bell 407 from Dreamfoil Creations, a standard bearer for it's time with a huge feature list and flying dynamics. Currently still only X-Plane 11, but with the release of the terrific Schweizer S300CB, it noted the developer was back in a big way, and he notes that the Bell 407 (and the AS350 B3+) are now being developed for X-Plane 12, expect in a few months.
     
    So that obviously sets up a quandary, which would be the best B407 to buy? A hard one even for me, as both as we shall see are very highly quality developed machines. The B407 from JRX is available now and for X-Plane 12, but the Dreamfoil 407 will have a bigger feature list and personal familiarity...  it is a very, very tough choice. Note, that since this review has been published, JRX Design has since updated the 407 to v1.30 (forget v1.10 as it was a non-starter). There were a few new additions, the biggest new feature was the CINEFLEX camera feature, and that item has now been included in the review.
     
    Design wise JRX have a superlative quality record, and to scale, and that aspect shows here. The 407 is beautifully done in modeling terms with excellent glass. Odd here though is you can't hide the glass reflections (inside or external), but it is still very well done with both front and rear doors with window (opening) hatch inserts. The huge fuel filler is excellent. Notable is that the riveting is drawn on and not modeled with highlights, same with the engine cover latches. It's well done but noticeable, but the external panel bolts are nicely 3d. The engine internals are also images, again highly realistic, so you admire them and are not as so distracted by them being only 2d
     

     
    Rear tail boom, horizontal stabiliser and upright tail support are well modeled, with the original orange/white tail-skid.
     
    The heart of a helicopter are the rotors and their assemblies....
     
    The main rotor is a 35 foot diameter, soft-in-plane flex beam (flapping flexure) type yoke/hub with four interchangeable blades. Elastomeric technology is incorporated and allows for blade movement. The blades and yoke are all composite materials. The rotor is designed to rotate at 413 RPM at 100% Nr.
     

     
    As rotor heads go it is very, very simple design, just the tower and four pushrods. Plate construction is really good, as are the arms, but we are going to lose points because only the collective bite is animated (13 degrees of twist), shame as we know the Dreamfoil 407 is fully animated, but the movements here are good.
     

     
    Rear tail-rotor is intricately designed, great detail and fine work. The yaw animations are also well done and visible.
     

     
    All doors are animated, can be opened externally and internally, and they can also be removed, but only all and not individually. Left side also takes away the cam centre panel, for a very wide open space for the Medi-Vac. So you really do wish for more selection on which doors you want removed as you can't slide the rear doors open in flight, missing also is the long and short window door panel option.
     

     
    Rear cabin seats five, or four chunky seats and a tight centre child seat in the rear. Default colour is a light grey with the very nice "Bell" logo on the seat back, the trim material is all very nicely done.
     

     
    Seating colours change to the selected external livery, with four choices in Light Grey, Red, Green and Dark Grey.
     

     
    The familiar restricted cabin roof is well reproduced here, making the rear cabin feel very authentic to those familiar with a 206/406 environment.
     

     
    Forward pilot seats are also very chunky for a helicopter, but very well designed and created. Again the materials are of a quality nature, a feel real effect if viewed in closely of the excellent chosen materials, the above roof switch and CB-Fuse panel is also excellent. All circuit breakers are active and animated.
     

     
    Side doors are beautifully realistically molded, with the authentic bell 407 logos and opening slide window, same in the rear.
     

     
    There is the option for single or duel controls, the left side pilot's cyclic and collective are very basic, with just a throttle built in. The right side pilot has a more detailed collective head, with FLOAT activation and lights with SEARCH, LDG (landing) and Start/Disengage switch.
     

     
    Chunky could also describe the instrument panel, for a small helicopter the 206/407 instrument panels are massive. But the instrument arrangement is quite simple. Top left is a Radio Altmeter, Engine readouts (TRQ - Torque, MGT, NR/NP - RPM, Davtron Clock/OAT/Volt meter, Fuel PSI-AMPS, FUEL Qty and Gearbox and Engine Oil pressure/Temp). Flying instruments include Airspeed, Artificial Horizon, Altimeter. Main NR/NP Tachometer dual gauge, Bendix/king HSI (Horizontal Situation Indicator), Vertical Speed instrument. OBS (Omni-Bearing Selector) for ADF 1/2, OBS NAV 1 and Turn rate dial.
     

     
    Lower is the avionic stack, with a custom GNS 530, KX 155A COM/NAV 1 radio, another KX 155A COM/NAV 2 radio, Bendix/King KMA 30 radio, Bendix/King KT74 Transponder and bottom (flat) a Bendix/King KR87 ADF radio. The metal rudder pedals are also highly designed and have pretty Bell logos.
     
    Panel can be set in either a light or dark tone
     

     
    There are two sets of headphones, in that their cables drag across the cockpit and obscures the instrument panel, you can click (lower volume) to hide the right headset, but you can't click on the left co-pilot one to hide it? so it hangs there! and right in your view line (It can thankfully be hidden another way as we shall see later). v1.20 and the Co-Pilot headset can now be thankfully also hidden directly via a "hotspot" click.
     

     
    Power on and the panel is beautifully done, love the instrument contrast to the red radio readouts. Then simply glorious at night!
     

     
    Caution Warning Panel (CWP) is very authentic, you can also test the systems via the button right panel. CWP can be set to BRIGHT or DIM illumination.
     

     
    Other internal lighting includes rear bulkhead adjustable spot light, plus the same as a cabin (switch) light, rear cabin lights again look very nice in the darker light, single overhead panel switch, or the individual rear switches can be used. Overhead panel lighting is again sensational.
     

     
    Menu
    To access the menu, you press the "Tablet" button on the far right top of the instrument panel. It is in the design of the RWP GTN 750 module. The tablet is extremely well intergrated with a support arm to the instrument binnacle. There are four option tabs on the left; MENU 1, MENU 2, RXP TAB, Avi TAB and LIVERIES.
     

     
    MENU 1
    You could call Menu 1 the options tab set into five categories (not labeled). First two, with first the Static Elements, Covers, Tiedowns and Flags, second is the external "GPU" (Ground Power Unit). Note the "Rotor Park Brake" has to be down to activate the Static Elements.
     

     
    Next category covers the pilots and passengers; you have "Fly With Copilot" that puts a crew member in the left seat, notable is when you do this that headset disappears from your POV. You also have "Crew Helmets" but those pesky hanging headsets then return... damn. Pressing "Crew Headsets" will hide only the Pilot's headset, but not the Co-Pilot's. Final option here is the "Passengers", which inserts two lovely ladies in the rear cabin
     

     
    If you adjust the X-Plane "Weight & Balance" menu, it makes no difference or adds in NO more passengers or cargo. In this area the JRX is limited in options
     
    Next category covers options; "Dual Flight Controls", and Doors ON/OFF...   Under the rear there is a large "Searchlight", or you can have the "Emergency Floats" installed on the skids. There are upper and lower "Wire Cutters" and last is the "ROTOR DAMPENER" cap.
     

     
    New in v1.20 were some very nice rear "Bear Paws"
     

     
    Last category is the set of options for the (optional) Reality RXP GTN 750. There is also a "Autopilot Unit" or Stability Augmentation Systems (SAS), this panel is placed lower right on the instrument panel.
     

     
    Last two options here is the "AviTab" tool (Plugin required), and the selection of the Light/Dark instrument facia.
     

     
    Also on the right side of "Menu 1" are three "Engine Exceedances" readouts, these can also be reset in TRQ (Torque), MGT and NG RPM
     

     
    Listed top of the panel is the current "Version"
     
    MENU 2
    In this tab you set the aircraft's configuration. Top is the "Fuel Load" in 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 and 1/1 or FULL. Lower left is the changing weights as you select the (Fuel) and Weight/Payload selections right, "ALL UP WEIGHT" and "MAXIMUM TAKEOFF WEIGHT" must balance. Lower are three options with CofG (Centre of Gravity), "Vibrations" Off-x1, x2,x3...  last is the selection of the FOV or "Field Of View".
     
     

     
    RXP/Avi TAB
    Are both quick button selections of the Reality WP GTN 750 and the Avitab tool
     
    LIVERIES
    You can select your livery via the tablet, and it gives you an image of the 407. There are 21 liveries, that covers a wide spectrum of services and countries, all are excellent.
     
     











     
    CINEFLEX
    A new feature added to the JRX B407 in the update v1.30, was the excellent CINEFLEX camera system.
     


     
    The Cineflex V14 is a 5-axis gyro stabilized camera system that delivers images completely free from even the smallest vibrations. It has a Sony Cinealta HDC 1500 camera integrated in the carbon-fibre housing that rotates a full 360°, and all movements are operated from within the helicopter.
     
    The first place you would look to activate the camera is the JRX Menu, but it's not located on there? The Camera system is activated by the "Camera System" switch, on the overhead panel, row below the circuit breakers/fuses, far right. Switching it on comes with a disclaimer from the developer...  it will deliver a 25% FPS hit on your framerate (any internal to external X-Plane viewpoint, usually has this same negative effect). It is a significant hit, so if the CINEFLEX is not in use it is best switched off.
     

     
    Activated you get the camera pod assembly now visible, slung under the nose of the B407, the modeling is excellent with the detail and the quality of the camera system.
     
    On the left side of the instrument panel, there is now positioned a cowled screen and operators panel...
     

     
    The panel has two sets of camera operation knobs, and four buttons. Power, Overlay, Reset and Park. "Power" is to switch on the system, "Overlay" puts a frame and recording data on the screen, including REC, Timecode, Resolution, Camera Coordinates, Airspeed, Heading, Altitude, Track, (camera) Pitch & Zoom
     

     
    "Park" will foldup and store the camera rearwards, "Reset" will set the camera to it's forward "ready" mode.
     

     
    Left small knob is the "Zoom"... 0%-100%
     

     
    Right is the knob/joystick to adjust the camera angle, ROLL, ROTATE and UP and DOWN angles.
     

     
    All the camera movement controls can be set as commands, for keyboard or joystick (HAT) actions, this allows easier control while flying. The CINEFLEX is expertly done, and a great addition to the 407.
    ___________
    Flying the Bell 407
    If you open the JRX 407, it will have the annoying habit of just shutting down again? even if the "Start with engines running" tickbox is active. There is a trick here...
     

     
    The issue is caused by the "Idle" button and throttle being set to closed, this is the shutoff point to kill the engine. To start you have to de-click the "IDLE-REL" and give the 407 a bit of throttle (80). Once running, then you can go back to the idle stop, but don't press the IDLE-REL, if not it will just shutdown the engine again...  or your back to square one.
     

     
    The "Start" switch is on the same collective, and as long as the fuel is on, then a press and hold of the switch is all that is needed. At first you don't think it is going to fire, then at once around 50% NR rpm, the Allison 250-C47 turbio-shaft engine (813 shp (606 kW)) gets itself together and your in the flying business...  its all a FADEC-controlled engine (Full Authority Digital Engine Control), as the FADEC system is designed to reduce pilot work load and increase engine reliability by fully automating the start procedure, and holding engine parameters to tighter tolerances in flight. It feels excellent in this JRX machine...
     

     
    ....   then twisting the throttle to "FLY" will increase the NR % to 100% 
     

     
    Does the JRX 407 sound good...  brilliant in fact. The start whine is excellent, so is the throttle adjustments through the spectrum, then the full rpm chop is really, really good, I've flown on a 407 (and a 206) and it is as good as you will get. I couldn't get any noisy internal blade slap, but external blade sounds in movement when in flight manoeuvres are excellent.
     
    Whoa!  off the ground with a bit of slight cyclic back, and a feel upwards movement of the collective, and you go into a perfect hover...
     

     
    ...   "Oh I like this!" I've had my time with wiggly nervous helicopters for a fair while, "This one is smooooth". Already happy, a bit more collective and a push forward of the cyclic and you are up & away. 206/407 usually need a bit of low nose to get them moving... not too much here and the speed builds very quickly.
     

     
    Bell later replaced the tail rotor pedals with the taller and slightly closer-to-the-pilot versions, as many pilots complained they were too high, as they preferred the 206 pedals than the 407's.
     

     
    The Bell 407 has a maximum speed of 140 kn (160 mph, 260 km/h), with an economical cruise speed of 133 kn (153 mph, 246 km/h). The range is 324 nmi (373 mi, 600 km) with a service ceiling of 18,690 ft (5,700 m).
     
    There is the vibration option...  OFF is no vibration, x1 is not really a lot, x2 is about perfect as x3 is very, very noticeable shaking, really it feels like your blades are coming loose!
     

     
    I was very impressed with the Autopilot Unit or Stability Augmentation Systems (SAS). It has had some fine tuning in v1.10, but it felt fine to me...  you can LVL (Level) then hit the AP, then HDG (Heading) and ALT (Altitude) and the transition in flight is excellent, only a slight lift as you go to the auto system. V/S (Vertical Speed) changes are 5 points either way, but honestly, if your not climbing high, then unlock the ALT and add a little collective to go up, then reselect ALT at your set altitude, the same to go down with less collective. Coming out of auto is good as well, but you need to disconnect the HDG and ALT selections before you disconnect the AP itself for a smooth transition, or it bumps coming out.
     

     
    Heading changes under the SAS are nice and smooth, long and with not any tight jumpy turns, so excellent...  yes very impressed. Really the 407 is so nice to fly manually (balanced when trimmed), you won't rely on the SAS, it is a relaxing controls machine, even distances are easy.
     

     
    Time to head back to the Jay Stephen Hooper Memorial Heliport. The 407 has a reputation for solid control feel in flight. That, combined with plenty of power, makes the 407 a real performer. The 206 (Jetranger) feels heavier than the 407 on the controls, so most pilots prefer the 407's flight control’s hydraulic boost, it is quite heavy if you turn the assisted system off.
     

     
    The Bell 407 is not a low-inertia system, it is also not a high-inertia system either like the JetRanger. So the feel is set somewhere in between, in making your approach it can be quite different. Autorotating the 407 going down I found there was still a high degree of maneuverability during the glide (power off), then the transition to Effective translational lift (ETL) was okayish, as you have to be aware on the loss of speed to avoid too much sink, so it's best to transition further out than closer to the pad in case of a sudden loss of lift.
     

     
    The flare and touchdown also requires a different technique than in the JetRanger. Timing is more critical because less energy is stored in the lighter-weight spinning rotors and the more collective pitch is used to cushion the helicopter’s touchdown. In addition, the pilot holds the helicopter in a nose-high attitude and touches down on the heels of the skids. It’s a fairly standard procedure for a lower-inertia rotor. One warning though is the 407 in the low hover is very susceptible to the swing effect, "Mast Bumping" is only present with a 2 blades rotor ...like R22 , R44, B206, but I found here the pendulum effect was very pronounced, the wrong (too heavy) input, and the 407 will swing quite violently, with the obvious results, so keep the final inputs extremely small, even pull away and do a new approach to get the procedure right.
     

     
    A few hours rest and I am airborne again, now twilight...  The 407's external lighting is excellent, except for in one area. There is a "Landing" light in the nose, and two amazing flashing strobes underside, rear red beacon and Navigation/Strobes on the horizontal stabiliser fences, the best though are the fantastic "Logo" spots on the side, I totally absolutely loved the lit logo look at night!
     

     
    It is mostly excellent, but the collective switch "Spotlight" created nasty ant lit marks all around the nose and windscreen, so you need to keep it switched off.
     

     
    Now darker, and I am cruising low and fast over the Freeways & Highways Los Angeles County...  my favorite Heli-Pilot pastime, the 407 is simply brilliant here, easy to cruise... did I say fast.
     

     
    In roles (or role-play) you are restricted here by the JRX door arrangement, there are no sliding doors on the rear, and not being able to individually remove, say the rear left door, restricts your role playing. Scouting for "News" I am playing a version of the "Nightcrawler", yes the movie , as I love this livery and the cruising above the LA landscape at night. I would have loved an open door, even a cameraman shooting the streets, but there is not even a Medi-Vac version, so it all feels all a bit limited if you wanted to be part of the action.
     

     
    So the JRX Bell 407 is excellent to fly, even say a novice could handle the aircraft and enjoy it's abilities... too benign, no I didn't get that feeling at all, it just felt right and the 407 was a totally enjoyable dynamic experience...  then what a way to end the night flying with a visit to that famous "Hollywood" sign...   perfect.
     

    _____________
    Summary
    The Bell 407 is a four-blade, single-engine, civil utility helicopter that uses the four-blade, soft-in-plane design rotor with a composite hub. So the breed line is from the famous "Jetranger", but the 407 is the far bigger and more powerful relation to the family.
     
    The release(s) of the JRX 407 here are separate for both the X-Plane 12 version or the X-Plane 11 version, as they are not packaged together. So make your choice wisely as they both cost the same.
     
    JRX Design are now very accomplished developers, the Bell 407 is their third release for the X-Plane Simulator, after the earlier dual SA 341B and SA 342J Gazelle and the Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm Bo 105 DBS-4.
     
    Notably the aircraft is created to a very high standard, beautiful modeling and lovely intricate details to scale. However rivets and engine fences are images and not 3d, but the main exterior bolts are modeled. Rotor hub is exceedingly well designed, but only has semi-animations for (twist) collective, and tail yaw. Glass is excellent (maybe the rear windows are bit dark) and there are no reflections disable for the internally or externally for the windows. Cabin and instruments are exceptionally well done, and all is very quality work in feel and look, but there are restrictions with only a singe door hide, and there are not many options for different fitout versions (Medi-Vac, lift hook) and role-playing that is mostly common with Helicopter packages. Lighting internally and externally is again excellent, but for ant whites around the frames with the spotlight feature. Although the official Bell 407 Manual and Procedures are very nice (authentic), a JRX Design manual was also required here.
     
    The updated v1.30 also comes with the sensational CINEFLEX camera system, hung on the nose, you have a full control of the camera and it's storage, v1.30 also has some other nice visual and menu tweaks as well.
     
    The JRX Bell 405 flies very well, I loved it as it was certainly not a edgy machine to fly, too benign, no I don't think so, so great for first timers and novice fliers, performance and dynamics feel also perfect.
     
    Would I like JRX Design to also do the famous 206 Jetranger? After this 407 I certainly think so, as it would be an excellent idea to do a fly off of their different capabilities, but more options overall would be nice.
     
    I love the 407, to a point now it is my current favorite helicopter to fly, I don't love niggly machines, I want to fly, hover and do things without the stress, throw in the sheer quality and X-Plane 12 realism and the JRX Bell 407 is a worthy winner...    highly recommended.
    ________________
     

     
    The Bell 407 by JRX Design v1.30 is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here :
     
    JRX Bell 407 for X-Plane 12
    Priced at US$35.99
    Requirements
    X-Plane 12 (not for XP11. If you want the XP11 version, get it here )
    Windows, Mac or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 1.4 GB Current Version: 1.30 (January 28th 2024)   JRX Bell 407 for X-Plane 11
    Priced at US$35.99
    Requirements
    X-Plane 11 (not for XP12. if you want the XP12 version, get it here)
    Windows, Mac or Linux - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 1.4 GB Current Version: 1.30 (January 28th 2024)   Installation and documents:  download for the JRX Bell 407 is 1.38 Gb and the aircraft is deposited in the "Helicopters" X-Plane folder.
     
    Full Installation is 2.76Gb
     
    AviTab Plugin is required for this aircraft
     
    Documents supplied are:
    JRX Bell 407 - READ ME.txt Bell 407 - Operational Evaluation Board Report.pdf Bell 407 - Pilot Ground and Flight Procedures.pdf Bell 407 - Rotorcraft Flight Manual.pdf JRX BELL 407 - END-USER LICENSE AGREEMENT (EULA).txt  

     
    Documentation consists of three official documents that cover the 407 Flight Manual, Pilot Ground and Flight Procedures and Operational Evaluation Board Report...  but there is no JRX 407 Aircraft manual, that was badly needed and certainly required here.
     
    Designed by JRX Design
    Support forum for the JRX B407  
    Review System Specifications: 
    Windows  - 12th Gen IS1700 Core i7 12700K 12 Core 3.60 GHz CPU - 64bit -32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - PNY GeForce RTX 3080 10GB XLR8 - Samsung 970 EVO+ 2TB SSD
    Software:   - Windows 11 Pro - X-Plane 12.09rc3 (This is a Release Candidate review).
    Plugins: Traffic Global - JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00
    Scenery or Aircraft
    - Hooper Heliport (58CA) -
    ___________________________
     
    Review by Stephen Dutton'
    6th January 2024
    Copyright©2024: X-Plane Reviews
     
    (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
     

     
     
     
  7. Like
    Stephen got a reaction from Cami De Bellis in Behind the Screen : January 2024   
    Great comment, go back to the core set up, see how it runs, then add in one component at a time, certainly with Plugins, the cause will stick out, I will say a few plugins that are essential like SAM are currently very buggy and are having no updates is a problem, this is causing a lot of anguish. But like I said do a core flight with a LR default aircraft A330 or B737, and see if you get the full clean Simulation, then work forward from there...
  8. Like
    Stephen got a reaction from Busair in NEWS! - Scenery Released : ZSJN - Jinan Yaoqiang Intl Airport XP12 by NSS Scenery Studios   
    NEWS! - Scenery Released : ZSJN - Jinan Yaoqiang Intl Airport XP12 by NSS Scenery Studios
     

     
    Noted as the "first official commercial airport project of the NSS scenery studio", this is ZSJN - Jinan Yaoqiang Intl Airport. This unique Chinese airport is now released for the X-Plane 12 Simulator (X-Plane 11 version is not available)
     
    Jinan Yaoqiang International Airport is the airport serving Jinan, the capital of Shandong Province, China. The airport is located approximately 33 kilometres (21 mi) northeast of the city center and immediately to the north of the Yaoqiang Subdistrict after which the airport is named. By road, the airport is connected to the Jinan Ring, Beijing–Shanghai, and Qingdao–Yinchuan Expressways.
     
    Jinan Yaoqiang International Airport was completed and opened to traffic on July 26, 1992, and the latest expansion project of the airfield was completed in October 2000. The new terminal opened in March 2005 while The South Finger Gallery project of the terminal was launched in 2010.
     
    Features
    Terminal building model based on references as data support Manual adjusted airport lighting system (accuracy of 90%) Accurate taxiway markings Extremely fine airport ground Dynamic auto jetway with a large amount of details (including canopy animation) Automatic marshals Four dynamic hangar doors Global localization of vehicles Off site random dynamic traffic flow Manually modeled off-site buildings Amount of scenery details can be changes according to needs  

     

     

     
    The scenery features an accurate rendition of the airport, with custom ground textures, accurate taxiway markings, custom jetways, custom night lighting, automatic marshaling, landside buildings, and lots more.
     

     
    Images and video are courtesy of NSS Scenery Studios
    ________________________
     

     
    Yes!  ZSJN - Jinan Yaoqiang Intl Airport XP12 by NSS Scenery Studios is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here :
     
    SJN - Jinan Yaoqiang Intl Airport XP12
    Price is US$22.00
     
    Requirements
    X-Plane12 (not for XP11) Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB RAM Minimum, 8GB+ Recommended Download Size: 1.4 GB Version: 1.0 (Feb 9th 2024) ___________________________  
    News by Stephen Dutton
    13th February 2024
    Copyright©2024: X-Plane Reviews
     
    (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
     

     
  9. Like
    Stephen got a reaction from Busair in NEWS! - Scenery Released : PAPG - Petersburg James A Johnson Airport by NorthernSkyStudio   
    NEWS! - Scenery Released : PAPG - Petersburg James A Johnson Airport by NorthernSkyStudio
     

     
    Northern Sky Studio's have released another Alaskan Scenery. This is the Petersburg James A Johnson Airport, for both X-Plane 12 and X-Plane 11, and are both included in the package..
     
    Petersburg James A. Johnson Airport is a state owned, public use airport located one nautical mile (2 km) southeast of the central business district of Petersburg, a city in the Petersburg Borough of the U.S. state of Alaska that has no road access to the outside world.[1] Airline service is subsidized by the Essential Air Service program.
    Petersburg James A. Johnson Airport has only one runway designated 5/23 with an asphalt surface measuring 6,400 by 150 feet (1,951 x 46 m).
     
    Northern Sky do some pretty great sceneries, not only externally, but the best internal modeling as well, in fact they were the leaders in this environment...  and they all come with a very low value price.
     
    Like most towns along the Milk Run & on Alaska's panhandle, Petersburg is only accessible by plane or boat and is largely involved in commercial fishing having a population of roughly 3000 people living in the area. It also attracts tourists for outdoor activities like skiing, hiking, & fishing even getting some small cruises. Petersburg itself is located on the north end of Mitkof Island and is located halfway between Juneau and Ketchikan. PSG is less than a mile from the town center & is only served by Alaska Airlines with flights to Juneau and Wrangell. While Alaska Airlines is the only major airline at PSG, scheduled commercial flights only make up 10% of operations here with air taxis having the majority, such as float planes or helicopters...
     
    Features:      The most detailed replica of airport buildings and vehicles     EDGE, REIL and Taxiway lights can be enabled on 122.500 COM1     Custom hand-placed autogen     High resolution ground textures / Custom runway textures     High resolution building textures     Compatible with all X-Plane 12 features     Custom mesh for the airport area (Ortho4XP)     All materials created for full PBR     Shading and occlusion (texture baking) effects on all airport buildings     High-resolution building textures     Custom orthophoto for the airport and surrounding areas     World Traffic 3 compatible  

     

     

     
    The airport is operated by Alaska Airlines, Alaska Seaplanes, and other private and business aviation. Alaska Airlines operates daily Boeing 737-700 passenger and Boeing 737-700 passenger/cargo jet service from the airport. Stopping at Petersburg airport is a part of Milk Run. The Milk Run refers to the daily circuit of Alaska Airlines flights that hop between towns in Southeast Alaska, serving as a lifeline for the communities that aren’t always connected by roads to the outside world. One of the Milk Run routes, Flight 65, starts in Seattle and stops in Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, and Juneau before landing in Anchorage. Another, Flight 66, starts in Anchorage and stops in Cordova, Yakutat, and Juneau before arriving in Seattle.   A custom Ortho4XP tile is available for download to include with this scenery. The link in the manual.  
    Images are courtesy of NorthernSky Studios
    _______________________________
     

     
    PAPG - Petersburg James A Johnson Airport by NorthernSkyStudio is available from the X-Plane.Org Store here:
     
    PAPG - Petersburg James A Johnson Airport
    Price is US$12.00
     
    Requirements
    X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11  (both versions included)
    Windows, Mac or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 2 GB Current version : 1.0 (Feb 15th 2024) ___________________________
     
    News by Stephen Dutton
    17th February 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. Thanks
    Stephen got a reaction from Kiwiflyer in Aircraft Review : Boeing 747-200 Classic by Felis Planes   
    Aircraft Review : Boeing 747-200 Classic by Felis Planes
     
    As active service is starting to come to a close, the venerable Boeing 747 is stacked in history, groundbreaking and it all comes with the sheer changes the airframe has brought to the world, if even in the process in also creating the modern international aviation system we have today...  the greatest aircraft ever built?
     

     
    As debatable as the title of GOAT (Greatest of all Time) is, and the sheer weight of the evidence that in the cases of the DC-3 Series, Lockheed Constellation, Boeing 367-80/720/707 and of course Concorde, could also be considered for the ultimate title, but except for the DC-3, most of the others were really for only the classes of the rich/elites of the world...   the Boeing 747 was for everyone.
     
    I have personally flown on the Boeing 747 about 20 times, it changed my life (literally) in breaking up the huge distance barrier between living in Australia, and being born in the United Kingdom. That was the Boeing 747's ultimate contribution to the huge changes on the planet over the last 50 years or so. As the aircraft could and did create a population movement right around the world, like of which we have never seen before.
     
    The aircraft broke so many barriers. It was the first twin-aisle aircraft or "Wide-Body" configuration aircraft, but remember also that the cargo loader or the Astroloader created for the 707, was then totally redefined as a complete super-sized cargo container to carry bulk cargo in the holds of aircraft for the 747 and it's compatriots for the huge numbers the 747 carried, again in totally changing the way we loaded and transported cargo in the air and in cargo movement on the ground...  remember from the very start the Boeing 747 was created to be a supersized cargo freighter for the military and actually not a passenger aircraft, hence the hump, it is there to create a full clear deck for cargo loading and for the ease of freight removal. But look at the silhouette, and it is a three deck perfection of transporting people and cargo to go pretty well anywhere that had a runway long enough to cater for it. The 747 also changed airports beyond recognition as well, to cater for the loading, unloading these huge passenger and cargo numbers it carried...  when a 747 lands, there is a lot to do, a lot to process to get the turnaround done and get the next huge load factor back into the air, just being around a Boeing 747 always creates excitement, watch one land after traveling thousands of miles, and it will still and always give you goosebumps.
     
    So you just can't ignore the Boeing 747, and come to a simulator and all you would want to do is fly one. And that is the single most focused reason I am doing reviews in X-PlaneReviews right now, as all I wanted to do originally was fly the "Jumbo Jet", the "Queen of the Skies" or how does the "Aluminum Overcast" sound? 
    Oddly Boeing 747's are actually not thick on the ground in the X-Plane Simulator, as we have had no FS based PMDG B747-400 to gloat over. The original best versions were the X-Plane9 2d panel X-Plane Freeware Project machines, that were incredible for their time. Dr Gary Hunter also created (early 3d cockpit) versions of the -100 and -200 that got a lot of nautical miles thrown at them, but from then on it went downhill... 
    The early SSG Boeing 747-800's were (1) not the version I really wanted or a -400, (2) were very buggy in their early days, but certainly now a brilliant simulation of a modern B747 (but it took simply years to get there)...   the elephant in the room is the default Laminar (JRollon) Boeing 747-400...  to be honest..  it is dismal, okayish even back when it was released for X-Plane10, sadly it has not had much attention in the intermediate decade either (yes I know that sparky has done a Zibo on the default B747, but it is not really a full Zibo yet).
    Add in finally a few FS crossovers, and so sadly there is not much more out there to get your ultimate Boeing 747 fix, so it is simply not the best airframe that X-Plane has delivered lately. Then out of the blue in typical X-Plane fashion there are two versions of the -200 Series, one is still in development by JustFlight, and this -200 Classic version by Felis.
     
    Felis Planes aircraft have been usually very, very Russian in context, like his last release of the Tu-154M and also an AN-24 and Yak 40. So a big brash American aircraft originally felt a bit of a odd context of a fit for such an Eastern-European developer... but here it is after 3 years in the making and development...  Boeing 747-200 Classic
     

     
    The first question is "Why the -200?", why not the original -100 classic. For one the -200 Series was the real breakthrough aircraft of the early Jumbo's... to be honest the -100's were a bit of a disaster and only sold 205 aircraft. Boeing agreed to deliver the first 747 to Pan Am by the end of 1969. The short delivery date left only 28 months to design the aircraft, which was two-thirds of the normal development time. The schedule was so fast-paced that the people who worked on it were given the nickname "The Incredibles". Developing the aircraft was such a technical and financial challenge that management was said to have "bet the company" on the series when it started the 747 project.
     
    The first 747 entered service on January 22, 1970, on Pan Am's New York–London route; the flight had been planned for the evening of January 21, but an engine overheated and made the original aircraft unusable. Finding a substitute aircraft delayed the flight by more than six hours to the following day when Clipper Victor was used...  and this was just the start of the no end of issues with these under-powered and difficult engines, add in that the wings also suffered oscillation under certain conditions.
    The strengthening of the wings was the easy part, but those Pratt & Whitney JT9D engines, of which was the first high bypass ratio jet engine to power a wide-body airliner were quite simply a nightmare in blowing up in flight, or being shut-down consistently, it created the scenario of having engines available to be swapped over constantly at the ends of service flights and it all created timetable chaos, overall the early JT9D's were engines too small for the largest airframe then flying and they were causing ovalisation, in which the stresses during takeoff was causing the engine casings to deform into an oval shape, resulting in the rubbing of the high-pressure turbine blade tips. This was solved by strengthening the engine casing and adding in yoke-shaped thrust links. The upgraded JT9D-7, with 197145,500 lbf (202 kN) of extra thrust was then the right powered engine for the airframe, since then the JT9D power-plant has flown more than 169 million hours. Production ceased in 1990, when the JT9D Series was replaced by the newer PW4000 Series.
     
    The -200 model followed in 1971, featured those more powerful -7 series engines and it had a higher (833,000 lb (377.8 t) MTOW. Passenger, freighter and combination passenger-freighter versions of the -200 were all produced. The shortened 747SP (special performance) with a longer range was also developed, and that variant entered service in 1976. In reality it was the -200 version that created the legend, the global warrior, the workhorse machine that moved millions around the world... and now here is that -200 version in the X-Plane Simulator.
     
    External Details
    To be honest, I was expecting something good from Felis, but on a first look of his latest creation... the jaw just dropped. We are used to another level of simulation, another level of quality in every new evolution of simulation, but "wow" this 747 is simply really something else.
     
    The thing is, it was not just another new aircraft for X-Plane... it is the feel of the thing that gets you from the off, that 747 bulky feel and that heavy, heavy 747 vibe that you just didn't get before.
     

     
    You forget how really big this aircraft actually is...  This is the hump 10 window version, a significant sign of the -200 designation. Yes the -100 had the extension from the original 3 window pot-boiler, as did the -300 have the 10 windows, but only the -200 had the 10 window configuration across it's whole production run.
     

     
    And those magnificent Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7 engines, which are extremely well recreated here for your pleasure...
     

     
    Surprisingly they feel quite quaint, even small to the whale mouth mega Ultra-bypass fan engines of today, but the current monsters were once started and are still related to these orginal powerplants of over 50 years ago. There are notes that the General Electric CF6 is also coming to this Felis aircraft, but no notes on if the Rolls Royce RB211-524 that also powered the -200 is coming. Internal inlet cowling soundproofing and nicely burnt JT9D-7 exhausts cones are of really great detail and engine authenticity.
     
    Excellent detail shows the animated reverser airflow panels (arrowed) in that they all blank outwards to push the airflow forward on the reverse thrust function. The detail in here quite exceptional.
     

     
    The best liveries are the ones that expose the aluminium hull, as they reflect and sparkle in the light, and look simply magnificent in the air.
     

     
    By today's standards they have that vintage feel and look, and in fact look very 60's... but you are also sort of seeing the beast in it's raw form.
     
    Modeling is very good, as is the fuselage detail, in all areas the NML normal mapping, or Dot3 bump mapping is really very good, in highlighting the wing and fuselage surfaces, the best locals are around the tail (which is excellent detailing)... with great fuselage ribbing that shows off the construction detail perfectly...  the mapping has to be very good to be effective, too deep and it does not look at all realistic, bump it out too proud and it looks even worse (one of the major failings on the JRollon default B747)...  but here on the Felis design it is fantastic in realism.
     

     
    All wing access panels are noted as is the flying surfaces in their correct detail, I won't detail the Kruger flaps yet (not the usual Slat leading edge operation as on modern jet aircraft), but they are folded in nicely here. The Triple slotted flaps at the rear of the wing are again in the retracted (clean) position, but the flying surfaces are drooping nicely with no hydraulic pressure to power them.  The -200 has no winglets, so the wingtips are clean with a lovely aerodynamically modeled profile, the winglets eventually came as a visual signature on the -400 version. Modeling here is really really good on the detail...
     

     
    One noticeable aspect though is that the main fuselage is just one 4k 4096x4096 size texture, and this smaller size becomes apparent around the windows and with the many jaggies on the liveries... the problem is the real estate size of the B747, in that blow up huge twin 4K textures for the more extreme detail, and that puts huge pressure on the framerate, it is a compromise, unfortunately it shows...
     

     
    ...  Felis has gotten around part of the issue with separate textures for all the finer details, like the cargo door instructions below, which are highly readable...  it is a compromise you have to live with.
     

     
    The towering cockpit windows always looked like a medieval helmet ready for battle, that thick green glass is really well represented here, but the metallic surrounds are a bit low-res and I have seen far better detailed metal window frames. Overall all the glass on the aircraft is excellent, the cabin windows are really nice up close with a slight frosted glaze and look very realistic.
     

    I have always loved the Boeing 747's stance... It says BIG, heavy, heavy aircraft...
     

     
    The extensive undercarriage assemblies are really good, fabulous even... 
     

     
    ...  they scream outwards of thousands of flight cycles, takeoffs and landings....  grungy, weather beaten, sand blasted, worn... 
     

     
    Hydraulic piping lines are excellent, as are all the hydraulic struts/links and the individual hydraulic rams cylinders (with all the correct information panels)... so the full inner and outer gear assemblies are highly realistic and well animated... boy how far we have come in a decade of detail and realism...
     

     
    Nose gear is very good as well, I love the separate housing box of the runway turnoff lighting, and the small gear door notches to cater for a forward strut, great and 747 absolute detail...
     

     
    ....  nicely raised and perfectly labeled "Goodyear" tyre logos, show off the excellent rubber on the aircraft, all small stuff, but it all counts in bringing too life a very and highly realistic Boeing 747...   even Joe Sutter would approve of all of this excellent work.
     
    Static Elements
    Felis has took an unusual approach to providing ground vehicles and static elements. The B747-200 comes with a pre-set (.set) to use with the JARDesign "Ground Handling Deluxe" tool (you have to install the .set in the GHD plugin. There are some basic settings built in like Chocks, GPU (Ground Power Unit), Crew Bus, Ambulance and Fire Truck. But if you want the whole service system then you would need the GHD plugin. Oddly I find it an odd choice? I rarely use an Ambulance or Fire Truck? And with no Fuel Tanker to load in the fuel? very odd indeed, but this aspect and other default GHD items we will cover later.
     

     
    The two lower main cargo hatches can be opened as well as the rear BULK door... but currently the main deck passenger doors don't open? But Felis has noted that they are just in needing to be finishing off and animated, so they will soon be all active as well in an early update.
     
    Using the GHD however, works very well...   and effective.
     

     
    Cabin
    We will board via the second left passenger door were the most of us in being mere mortals mostly entered the Economy class seating (first door left is for First Class/Business class)...  entrance is directly opposite is a galley...
     

     
    ...  look left and there are the two upper classes, look right and the huge expanse of the Economy class seating greets you. No Economy Plus+ or Premium Economy was located in here back in the 70's. We will go to the rear and then make our way forward again...
     

     
    ...   anyone of a certain age would recognise this cabin space immediately, it is nothing like the later -400 layout, of three or more classes. The rear toilets are certainly very recognisable! The 3+4+3 seating layout is complimented at points by just a twin seat arrangement... forward rear cabin and a few rows as the tail tapers inwards at the rear, this tapering in is excellent, and noticeable via the shaping of the overhead lockers to compensate.
     

     
    The seating material is also very recognisable, inlayered blue here but the same thick wool (and back then comfortable) material could have been in say the oranges and reds of Qantas (they threw in a bit of yellow as well), or the gaudy American 70's browns, mustards and greens of the period. A passenger safety card is placed in the rear pockets. Door and sidewall paneling is really very well done, but I don't remember grey? it was more an off cream, biege and lighter brighter colour, but the original wall panel patterns are very well represented here if you get in close. Overhead locker detail is again first rate.
     

     
    There is however this overwhelming feeling of greyness in all the cabins...  Mostly with the cabin divider partitions...  on a real 747-200, there would be a large screen here with those huge low-slung projectors hanging mid-cabin, or the airline logo or even a destination image...  so there is also the same factor as with the doors, or are these areas not yet completely or fully finished...   I would like to think the cabin needs a bit of something a bit more to break up the compounding grey.
     

     
    Mid-deck has those coveted door aisle seats with tons of leg space, but they were also positioned by the toilets? with everyone from Mums with kids to the older infirm people standing and hovering around you while waiting to squeeze into the tiny interior toiletry space, oh and the sucking noise, hurrendous noise every time someone finished their business...  I would rather be right up the back and away from the noisy congestion.
     
    Business class is actually small in a four row 2+3+2 layout, again the seats are luxurious in an old fashioned way in a darker blue this time.
     

     
    The famous concave nose of the 747, was the prized zone for the rich...  spacious, all with twin abreast seating each side to the nose, the four rows of seats are the same as the ones behind in Business Class, but who cares...  again the overhead lockers are all individually created to fit into the curve of the ceiling, again so beautifully done.
     

     
    Go back to the rear of the First class cabin and to the first left entrance door, and there is another 747 icon, the spiral staircase, and in here it is all finished in shiny polished steel...
     

     
    ...  the staircase is steeper and tighter than you think it is...  I have been privileged to have been seated up here only once, it is more like the tighter area of Concorde than being on a 747... two abreast/three row Business seating has been installed up here and not the early fancy cocktail bar and lounges that lasted only for a few months before airlines realised how much money they were losing on the prized space. Oddly you couldn't see out very well with the sloped angle of the upper windows, so you looked more up than downwards. Roof detail is again extremely good, and there is a basic toilet behind the rear curtain...  but you really expected a galley area, and it again that hidden area looks little uncompleted and open.
     
    Cockpit
    It is however through that cockpit door that we are interested in...  The tight cockpit door opens, but it won't open, if it is not unlocked from the cockpit Overhead Panel (OHP), but it also needs to be powered up as well to turn the handle, tricky if you are on the outside, and the power is off on the inside?
     

     
    Once inside it is certainly a huge "WOW" moment! Look left and there is a jump seat (with a folded spare (not animated) in front). Look right and there is the coat hangar space with two oxygen (masks) bottles. Note the excellent cockpit door aircraft Airworthiness and Registration labels.
     
    Into the cockpit and the crew space is SIMPLY unbelievable...  There is the same feel of the FlyJSim Boeing 727 Series, but the completeness in here is just astounding. There isn't just the focus on the Main Instrument and Engineer's Station panel elements, but the full detail in every aspect of a real Boeing 747-200 cockpit, overhead, to the rear, to the side...  everything is noted and completed in high full on detail.
     

     
    The Engineer's chair also rotates forward ( a lot of the engineers would help the pilots by pushing up the throttles from the rear). Looking forward and the sheer complexity of the main panel, just bewilders your eyes, the Engineer's Station panel was complex, but looking forward it is just as bad...  it all gets very overwhelming.
     

     
    Certainly any simulator pilot would look at anything new to fly with a greedy eye, to master...  "I will control all of this all so very easily"...   not so this time sunshine?
     

     
    Seats are beautifully created with perfect materials and realistic period textures... 
     

     
    ...  inner armrests are animated to drop down, and the under seat floor tracks are really nicely done. Note the nice folds on the seat back materials.
     

     
    We will put the power on early...  not on the OHP, but over at the Engineers Station (ES).
     
    Statement: at this point as this is an early beta review I have no manual? that is still being assembled by Felis (on a recommendation that "you really, really, really need a manual for all of this!")...   so if I make the odd switch or system mistake, then I am working absolutely blind in here.
     
    I am using the GPU (ground Power Unit), and not the on board APU (Auxiliary Power Unit), so as to not to use up the on board fuel. The GPU panel is roof upper left on the Engineer's Panel, and the DC main bus is mid-panel left, (Shielded) battery switch is on the DC Meters panel.
     

     
    Power on and with the instrument and panel lighting adjusted...  Glorious! 
     

     
    But by switching switches and touching things you easily reailse that almost EVERTHING works in here, as all the systems are actually working and active...  here by example are the switches for the Compass (Magnetic/Heading) and the Altitude (Artificial Horizon) selection, and note that all of the switches around you are also actually working...  multiply that by this clockwork complexity and your head and eyes are very soon swooning.
     

     
    Authentic yokes do look and feel very 747...  very nicely done, and with a working A/P (Autopilot Cancel) on the left arm button.
     

     
    But can you hide them?  I looked everywhere, in the menus, on the tablets, and clicky, clicked the bases of the yokes until I couldn't click anymore? The solution? The instrument panel behind has a click zone "SHOW/HIDE YOKES" set directly behind the Captain's Yoke...  Duh!
     

     
    Too easy, but I will say this, it is a great and very easy way to hide and unhide the yokes very quickly in flight, I used this panel switching plate a lot. The yokes are not set individually, but hide both together.
     

     
    The main flying instruments are actually quite simple, and replicated on both the Captain's and First Officers (F/O) sides of the panel, the only missing item is the Timer/Chrono set out on the far left.
    The central Artificial Horizon is very authentic in detail...  known here as the Attitude Director Indicator (ADI), it provides a visual presentation of the pitch and roll attitude of the aircraft on a spherical display. The side scale shows glideslope, and localiser deviation is presented on the lower horizontal scale, and an inclinometer is mounted on the lower front face of the instrument. F-Fast and S-Slow indications are to the left...  and there is a slip indicator bottom...   you can test the ADI as well (arrowed below left). Left of the ADI is the Airspeed Indicator (IAS/Knots) with built in Mach counter top centre it is all very 60's/70's period in layout.
     

     
    Lower centre Instrument panel is the Horizontal situation indicator (HSI), with Heading bugs and a built in Course Indicator, Miles (to go) and GND Speed displays. Left of the ADI is the Airspeed Indicator with built in Mach markings and settable bugs, Right is the Altitude Indicator and far right is a Radar Altitude dial, again testable (arrowed below).
     

     
    Below is the TCAS VSI (Vertical Speed Instrument). This instrument is a dual digital instrument that combines the TCAS (Traffic Collision Avoidance System) display and the Vertical Speed Instrument. to the right is a backup Altitude Indicator...  and left of the HSI is the Distance Bearing Indicator (DBI) pointers for the VOR1/ADF1 (DME 1) and VOR2/ADF2 (DME 2). Like noted the F/O's main instrument layout is exactly the same. Top panel each side is an F/D - AP - A/T situation panel with warnings built-in, very similar again to the panel layout in the FJS Boeing 727...
     
    Centre of the instrument panel is dominated by the clockwork engine dials...  4x4, for the four engines and their readout displays for (top to Bottom), EPR - Engine Pressure Ratio, N1 %RPM, EGT - Exhaust Gas Temperature and FF - Fuel Flow.
     

     
    Left of the dials is a back up Artificial Horizon (with working adjustable pitch line), below is the main and highly detailed Annunciator warning panel. Right of the dials top is a Total Air Temperature (TAT) and EPRL - Engine Pressure Ratio Limit.
     
    Then the familiar 747 (each wing) Flap Indicators (0-1º-5º-10º-20º-25º-30º degree) flap positions, bottom is a SAT - Static Air Temperature gauge. Right-centre is the main Gear Lever (UP-OFF-DN). 
     
    There are three gauges right panel for the F/O only...  Top is a TAS - True Airspeed (knots) counter, below is an excellent aerodynamic surfaces indicator (Elevators/Rudders/Ailerons/Spoilers) and bottom is the Hydraulic Brake Pressure gauge.
     
    Built into the glareshield is an authentic Sperry Autopilot MCP (Mode Control Panel) unit.
     

     
    The Sperry is very much a unit of it's period, and in reality a very basic autopilot for an aircraft of this size...  we will look at it's operation in flight. Each end of the MCP is the VHF NAV selectors NAV1-Left and NAV2-Right... far right is the MCP brightness knob, and both ends have a RADIO-INS switch.
     
    Overhead Panel (OHP)
    If you love complexity in machines, then you will be in thrall of these early 747s. The OHP is complex, certainly there is no logic or ergonomics on the boards flows to aid in any speed and efficiency of the cockpit work load.
     

     
    There is actually a certain pattern to the layout, mostly the engine controls that go down the board, for Fire (Bottles/Handles), Starting/Ignition in two columns, with an auxiliary panel down the centre column for Emerg Lighting, Intercom and Windshield Wipers. Left panel column has Hydraulics, Yaw Damper, Auto Brake, Anti-Skid... Right Column has Radio Master (Avionics), Stall Warning, Anti-Ice, Probes and Window Heating switches. The Inertial Navigation System (INS) uses three Carousel systems operating in concert for reliability purposes, and they are spread across the upper centre of the OHP. Bottom or the chin of the OHP is the instrument and overhead lighting knobs, External Lighting for Landing, Turnoff - NAVigation, BEACON(s), STROBE, WING and LOGO.
     
    Engineer's Station
    Three man aircrews were normal throughout the 60's and 70's on international flights... Captain, First Officer and the Engineer. The one thing that overwhelms you is that the complexity of the aircraft is with these extensive layout of panels, that showed in it's very raw detail via the Engineer's Station, the unbelievable aspect is that they took all these systems and controls, and then remodeled (or automated) it all for a twin crew operation in the -400, most of what you see here was later hidden and revolutionised for basically the same aircraft with the same capabilities, astounding really when you think about it and the forward progress of automation on aircraft flight decks.
     

     
    Top roof angled Engineer's Panel, and you have a very nice fluorescent panel above the station under an authentic period cover...   Top right is the APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) panel with Start/Bleed switches and "Fire" handle, and below the AUX POWER panel (GPU). Cabin Oxygen and Galley controls, lower is the DC Bus switches. Centre panel is the Air-Conditioning Panel and Packs (this goes on down into the centre section of the station). The four pointer gauges is the Engine Fire Detection Panel, with "Fire Tests" and "Squib Test". Wing LE Overheat (testable) and far right are the engine generators (Main and APU) Annunciator warning panels.
     

     
    First to note that all the four engine readout dials (1/2/3/4) also all go in line right down the left side of the station...  with the Electrical (generator) Bus Panel top, with the Engine Oil Temperatures set below, with the main engine readouts going lower. Moving right along the centre section is the DC/AC Electrical Panel (battery). Next centre is the continuation of the above noted Air-Conditioning Panel and Packs systems with cabin pressure settings...   Next is the N2 (Pressure & Quantity) Panel, with the Undercarriage Brake Temperatures, Anti-Skid and Landing Gear Indicators. Far right centre panel is the Expandable Flight Data Acquisition and Recording System or (EFDARS), and again a panel that can be inputted and tested.
     

     
    The base of the work station has to the left, the continuation of the four engine readout dials (1/2/3/4) in five rows...  N2, Oil Quantity, Oil Temperature, Oil Pressure and bottom the Engine Breather (PSIG). Center lower panel is dominated by the Fuel System, with Fuel Temperature, Fuel Pressure, Pumps, Boost Pumps and Fuel Quantity in four tanks and a centre (CTR) tank... Fuel Used counters are also available...  all the fuel readouts can be in either Pound (lbs) or Metric (Kg).
     

     
    To the right of the base, is a APU HOURMETER, Leading Edge Flap Indicator, Body Steering (Gear) indicators, a Timer/Chrono and bottom is another Total Air Temperature (TAT) gauge.
     
    Far right is the FUEL JETTISON (red) panel...  the panel opens up to access the JETTISON PUMPS, JETTISON VALVES and JETTISON NOZZLE VALVES...  Laid out on the desk is a chart covering; Altitude, Cruise Weight, and Optimum (Speeds)
     

     
    Below the desk far left is a RADIO-Intercom panel and the LIGHTING controls for the Engineer's Station.
     
    It is obvious that a study of all of the above and a learned  interaction is required before flight. Just switching switches and turning knobs will get you into trouble later (except for the lighting knobs)... as with everything, you have to break it down and understand how it all works. You wanted realistic complicated systems in the simulator...  well here they are.
     
    Centre Console
    In context the Boeing 747 Centre Console feels and is more stubby than you would expect.
     

     
    Throttle quadrant is set out up front and the Radio Panel is at the rear. Grungy, Dirty, Worn, Metallic...  the Throttle Quadrant is everything you would want it to be...
     

     
    The assembly is sensational, four throttle levers and four fuel flow switches to cover the four-engined aircraft. The detail and quality of the quadrant is highly realistic...  The Trim wheels (operated by the switch upper left) are also exceptional, with their lit green direction and position indicators. Left are the Stabiliser and Trim Levers, with the Airbrake lever set rearward. Right hand side is the "Click, Clacky" clunky Flaps lever... and towering above are those four double handled throttle levers with their ceramic feel handles, four rear reverse levers are also hidden behind the quadrant... the front engine Fuel Flow levers have three positions "IDLE-RICH-CUTOFF".... perfection!
     
    Rear centre console is top, and each side are the two main VHF/HF Radio panels, with the Autopilot Pitch and Roll knobs centre (Manual PITCH and ROLL wheels are only used for controlling autopilot pitch in turbulence, and they only work when the autopilot is in MAN mode)... Then down each side is the VHF 1 COM, ADF 1 and VHF 2 COM on the left, on the right is the VHF 2 COM and ADF 2 Radio Tuners.
     
    Centred between the tuners is the third INS - Delco Carousel IV-A Inertial Navigation System. Below is the Transponder Panel, A great feature is the full custom intergration of the use of Saso Kiselkov’s Libradio and OpenWXR plugins...   and bottom panel centre is the EPRL Mode (Engine Pressure Ratio Limit) and A/T Mode Selectors...  right lower is the Bendix Radar Radar panel.
     

     
    Rear of the centre console are the Aileron Trim Switches, large Rudder Trim knob (very nice), Warning Horn and Control Stand/Centre FWD Panel lighting knobs...  set into the rear of the console is a very realistic announcement phone.
     
    Internal Lighting
    As expected the internal cockpit lighting is sensational...
     

     
    Captain's, F/O main instruments, centre Engine Instruments, Instrument panel lighting, Centre Console and Overhead Panel all have separate adjustable knobs, the Engineer's Station has five adjustable knobs for gauges and dials, plus that huge fluorescent panel...  you can of course turn down the main under the glareshield lighting for the just perfect instrument approach feel.
     

     
    Storm or the adjustable Dome lighting will light up the cockpit via four roof lights, there are two (adjustable) Map lights above each pilot, and one (Arrowed above left) to light up the Engineers table...  at the rear there is a clickable spot light for the rear jumpseat (arrowed above right). Overall the lighting is simply excellent.
     
    The Cabin lighting is not however as good, as it is far brighter than even a Stanley Kubrick space film... It is extremely bright back here and certainly does not match the comfortable cockpit, and simply way too bright for a 747 cabin...  and externally it does not look realistic either...    less is more here please.
     

     
    External lighting is very good, but there is not a lot of it compared to modern aircraft, for one there is actually no nosewheel taxilight?. There is however the boxed two turnoff lights, outboard and inboard landing lights, great wing lights, navigation (wing/tail) lights, upper and lower beacons and an illuminated tail light.
     

     
    Tablet and Menus
    There are three tablets set on each side by the pilots, and one set on the Engineer's Station. The tablet is both an AviTab and the Aircraft's Menu system.
     

     
    The tablet has ten icon options; AviTab, Load Calculator, Refuel, Payload, INS, GND, Fast Load, Check-Lists, Perform Calc and Options.
     

     
    First icon is the standard AviTab, The AviTab has all the usual AviTab features including Navigraph intergration if you have a subscription, and the free AviTab plugin IS required for it to work.
     

     
    Tablets are static in that you can't rotate the Tablet to a Portrait position. That said they are all positioned well for ease of use.
     
    Load Calculator : Second icon is the "Load Calculator". Here you can set up the Boeing 747-200's Passenger, Cargo and Fuel loads, by using the scroll wheel on your mouse...   Everything can be adjusted to your liking, then all the preset weights are shown lower right in the "Final Results" box...   A super option is that you can use the "Show Loadsheet" (arrowed below) of the aircraft, but better still you can save it as a "TXT" file, that is then saved in the aircraft's root "OUTPUT" folder, and that Loadsheet can then be printed out for in flight use...  "Love it!". 
     

     
    Refuel : Third icon is your refueling/Unload Fuel tab...  Here you can set the amount of fuel you want in the B742, or insert the amount directly from the Loadsheet...   Then you call the (GHD) Tanker to Load in or unload the Fuel, If you can't wait, then there is the option to do an "Instant Refuel".
     

     
    Payload : Fourth icon is your PAX (Passenger) and Cargo Loads...  Here you can BOARD, or DEPLANE your Passengers and Cargo in real time, or again do an Instant "Board - Unload" or "Instant Deplane and Unload". Again you can insert the Pax/Cargo numbers directly from the Loadsheet, but not the other way around (or changing the Payload sheet)?  Selecting BOARD or UNBOARD will bring the (GHD) Stairs to the aircraft.
     

     
    INS : Fifth icon is the INS or Inertial Navigation System details. It notes the current coordinate position, a "Quick Align" option, Clear all Waypoints" and Open Flight Plan (X-Plane Default Flightplan list).
     

     
    GND : Sixth icon is the GND (Ground Service) selection for the already noted GHD vehicles, and the place to open/close the two main and BULK cargo doors.
     

     
    Fast Load : Seventh icon is the "Fast Load" tab. A very quick and simply way to load the aircraft, but importantly here is the aircraft's ZFW (Zero Fuel Weight) and CG (Centre of Gravity) numbers. And you can set the numbers by pressing the "> Write Into
    Sim" line.
     

     
    Check-Lists : Eighth icon is the "Checklist" tab. The Checklists are excellent, highly readable and can be ticked "Checked" off as you go along. Start - Reset - Skip - Check - Prev List  - Next List, controls the menus...  and thankfully both the Pilot and Flight Engineer areas are highlighted (Arrows).
     

     
    Perform Calc : Ninth icon is the Performance Calc (Calculation) tab. You can either load the data set information either by the "Loadsheet" or by the "SIM".  Airport and Weather conditions (or just the Weather), can also be read into the calculator There are two pages for "TAKEOFF PERF" and "LANDING PERF" including the required Stab Trim number for takeoff. Both the Takeoff and Landing Speed Bugs can also be set on the Airspeed Indicator. Notes include: "Stab Trim", "Init Pitch" (best Takeoff pitch in degrees) and Opt (Optimal Climb out Speed).
     

     
    Options : Seventh icon is the Options tab. These are the various options you can use on the Boeing 747-200. They include; Nosewheel Uses, Nav System, UNITS, INS align, INS Source, Sync CPT/FO Gauges, Cockpit sound Volume and External engines Volume
     

     
    Nosewheel Uses - Three options cover the way you steer the 747; TILLER/YAW/ROLL, I have become a huge fan of using the "Roll" function to steer aircraft, as yaw will move the rudder and the nosewheel as one, were as roll will split the rudder from the action, it makes it far easier to keep the aircraft straight on the runway...  it is more fun to use as well.
     
    Nav System : In the Felis 747 you have the choice of two FMS - Inertial Navigation Systems or INS. The FMC or the X-Plane default system...  And both units pop out for use as well...
     

     
    ...   Second INS option is the Delco Carousel IV-A Inertial Navigation System, called CIVA. It is an Inertial navigation system (INS) and a navigation aid that uses a computer, motion sensors  and gyroscopes to continuously calculate via dead reckoning the position, orientation, and velocity  of a the aircraft without the need for external references. CIVA does automatic navigation of up to 9 waypoints.
     
    This CIVA is a custom version for the Boeing 747-200 by Felis, and not being the addon version by Philipp Ringler payware version. To date there is no actual documentation on how to use this custom CIVA, I will add in the details later when available or even do a separate "How to Use" review.
     
    UNITS : Changes all volumes to either Imperial or Metric units
    INS align : REAL or FAST - sets the world setting to align the Inertial navigation system in real time, or instantly.
    INS Source : REAL or Sim GPS - sets the INS source to a Real world setting, or uses the X-Plane GPS settings.
    Sync CPT/FO Gauges : This option synchronises both or all Barometer settings.
    Crew Voices : OFF/ON - The Felis 747 has really great background cockpit voices and intercom sounds, well worth leaving switched on.
    Cockpit sound Volume : Adjusts the cockpit sounds 1.00 to 0.00...  not the usual 100%, but adjusted via the mouse scroll.
    External engines Volume : Adjusts the external engines sounds 1.00 to 0.00...  not the usual 100%, but again adjusted via the mouse scroll.
     
    There is a secondary menu on the X-Plane Menu Bar...
     

     
    This covers two of the Tablet Menus in "Checklister" and "Performance" Calc (Calculator)...
     

     
    ....  but also allows you to hide the Tablets (a very good idea, as they can be quite bright at night)
     

    ____________________
     
    Flying the Boeing 747-200
    There are a few quirks to be aware of, the first is an odd one...  in that the first view (W key) is set from the view of the Flight Engineer's position, mid-way between the seats...   so you have to do a keypad view save to put yourself back into the driving seat, hit the "W" key by mistake and you are always placed in the wrong seat...  very odd.
     

     
    Startup this time is via the APU, Battery ON and start the APU for power. The only way to go quickly through the startup, is actually to go slower through using the Checklist(s)... 
     

     
    ...   The first two checklist pages are however the wrong way around, so you need to start on the PE page, then move back to the earlier Pilot's page once the power is up and running.  The checklists show what needs to checked or switched, but not actually where the items are, hopefully the manual will explain more when it comes, but otherwise I found it actually easy to set the aircraft ready for engine start, and far easier than I thought it would be by running simply down the checklist.
    There is however a huge amount of this "Checking off" to do... and there are loads of areas to test and to make sure everything is working as it should... the system detail in this Felis 747-200 can easily become overwhelming. To note even small things like the Engineer's Station Baro (both of them) has to be adjusted, miss that and the cabin (pressure) settings are wrong?
     

     
    Bleed is another tricky one...  you have to push the bleed air from the APU through to the engines before you start them, but what is the right bleed flow to the right areas? Basically if you set up your bleed valves like this (below, and mostly all closed)...  then you should be good to start the engines.
     

     
     Open the "Start Valve" clip and switch to ARM...   every action should now be acknowledged by a voice (if you have the Crew Voices option switched on) and very good they are...  Boeing 747 engine start sequence is 4-3-2-1, or 4---1 if you only want fewer engines to taxi or for pushback. Notable there are none of those no huge pull knobs like in the -400, as in the -200 it is just an "ENGINE IGNITION" switch that has to be held down until the "Valve" Open" light comes on...  over on the EP then the engines N2 output should start to rise...
     

     
    .... when N2 gets to 20% then you click up the pedestal Fuel Flow lever, and it clicks wonderfully down into place with a satisfiying click. Every action is spoken out as you go along "Start Valve Open", "Engine Four Start" and so on... it is all quite brilliant. It is easy to do the Engine start on the OHP, then move to the FE panel, then at 20% turn around and switch on the Fuel Flow, as you will need to see that N2 counter that is not present on the main instrument panel.
     

     
    As each engine powers up then the sounds come in...   it is quite quiet on the flight deck, but the startup and running sounds are excellent externally (engines sounds are by Turbine Sound Studios). Not as loud as the 60's vocal engines, these bypass engines are much more quieter than those old pure jet engines of a decade ago, and ushered in a new era of less noise around airports, but you might have to adust the % to get the right external sound feel.
     
    Now with the engines running you have configure all the systems on the FE Panel, Electrical - left, Packs - Centre, Hydraulics - right and Air-Conditioning Panel - top. It is a bit like a "wack a mole", with any really brown lit warning "Press" light... it is then targeted and extinguished, Green is good.
     

     
    Pressing some switches, makes other dials come alive, slowly but surely this massive B747 comes to life.  the detail is amazing...  drop the flaps (5º) and the FE board now comes to life, as you see the hydraulic pressure being diverted, and the flap extension is shown on the FE display...
     

     
    ...   the 747 now feels so alive!
     
    Notes include the Takeoff Trim and the green band shows you your safe zone for the T/OFF Trim to be correct...  here it is set to centre, and not to the correct takeoff setting...
     

     
    ...  and there are the three  A/T MODES, of EPR - MACH - SPEED and selector EPRL (Engine Pressure Ratio Limit) and it all works with the thrust setting knob in TOD - CON - CLB - CRZ and GA modes, Also note the two Flight Directors on the glareshield for each pilot.
     

     
    The announcement and intercom system is excellent, press a button for an announcement, but with some you can't hear it in the cockpit, but very well in the cabin...  very authentic. The Crew will also call you in the cockpit and the "Call" light will come on... to interrupt any announcements (or kill it), just hit the FLT INT button, overall it is a really great and realistic system.
     

    _________
     
    Engines running and your now gulping down A1 like no tomorrow, so you can't sit here messing around...  Flaps to takeoff 5º and those lovely Kruger leading edges unfurl...  sounds are brilliant as they whine out separately, very, very realistic...  the B742 is finally coming alive...
     

     
    It is very important to now to set the A/T EPR Mode to ON, rear pedestal... if not when you want to activate the Sperry Autothrust, it won't work unless you set the selection beforehand and the TOD first selection know as "Take Off Dry"... 
     
    You forget on how high you actually sit in a 747 cockpit, it is at between 7.56 to 7.90m above the ground, so the view is commanding, but you have to adjust your thinking in the way you move the aircraft around on the ground, and remember the huge bulk of machine behind you as well.
     

     
    Tricky is using the Parking Brake...  you have to not only to release the Braking Brake switch, but also tip both rudder pedals together (or use the (Standard) brake to finally release the brakes, if not the big 747 will stay quite solid...  when release the voice will note that the "Park Brake" is off...
     

     
    ...  this is also a good time to check the aerodynamic surfaces indicator (Elevators/Rudders/Ailerons/Spoilers) and via the Yoke and rudder movement, as the Hydraulic Brake Pressure gauge is set below. Three choice TILLER/YAW/ROLL actions are great, as noted I use the "Roll" function to steer aircraft as my preference, but the hands on Tiller option is also very good.
     
    Take-Off Trim is set a 4.5º, and very nose down in the lower forward green zone (important), the "Stab Trim" unit is noted on the tablet Performance Calc page as noted, and then the speed bugs are now also set.
     

     
    Everything set, and it is time to push all four of those magnificent throttles slightly forward...  and the huge bulk of the 747 starts to move...  you certainly feel the size and weight with the amount of power on the throttle forward position required to move the aircraft.
     

     
    "Hey... outta my way, I am so much bigger than you!" You trundle along and everything feels so right with this huge Boeing...
     

     
    It is important for takeoff that the (Three) Air-Conditioning Packs are now closed (for more power), but you have to switch them off slowly, or space the closing of each valve by one at a time. OHP requires the ANTI-SKID and BODY GR STRG switches to takeoff.
     

     

     
    ....  the feel and everything is just SO right...  this is such a real 747 experience. Another Speedbird aircraft is lining up ready to go onto Barcelona's Rwy 07L, decades and 50 years apart, but both aircraft are doing the same route and service BCN-LHR.
     

     
    Onto Rwy 07L and you are partly nervous, okay a lot nervous...  this is a BIG aircraft, complex and unforgiving. 
     
    Power up to move the giant forwards, and that familiar thunder powers away in the background...  747's have a very distinctive feel, certainly on takeoff and the initial climb out. Those Kruger leading edge flaps are like barn doors in the air. So you have to find a balance between the heavy Kruger drag (even at only a º5 Flap) and the power available...  On a -200 unlike the -400, you have far, far less thrust available, and the trick is to not rotate too high on rotation and slowly...  if at near TOW (812000 lbs) with a lot of fuel, then you can be eyeballing the fence before grabbing the air, here at a far less TOW (554514 lbs) weight, so it is not as much an issue.
     

     
    Once moving...  you switch on the EPR (TOD)...   this will automatically set the correct thrust and speed required for takeoff, the EPR mode light comes on the A/T display... Speed and Mach will not work as the TOD setting only holds the take-off power %. My takeoff speed is set a little higher at 189 knts, but most pilots set it at the rotate speed.
     

     
    V1, Vr then V2 +10 (164 knts) you feel the stick back and the huge 747 bites into the air. Once "Positive Climb" is called you make sure your speed is slowly climbing upwards, and you change your forward speed more to say around 235 knts.
     

     

     
    You are extremely aware of your pitch and speed on the sharp turn out of Barcelona, of which you watch both like an eagle, once in clear air you can retract the (Kruger) Flaps, and be careful of the extreme speed acceleration, as with the drag disappearing the B742 will accelerate quickly...  Rate of Climb can be 2,000 fpm, but that really depends on the weight...  if heavier then around 1,800 fpm is the best and 1,500 fpm if really very heavy... and clean the B742 is a very fast aircraft, around 250 knts is the usual lower altitude speed.
     
    The EPR is now switched to CLB (Climb) mode and you can now adjust the V/S...  a note that in other EPR settings you can get a A/T disconnect when using the V/S (or non-movement of the V/S wheel), so it is VERY important you do have the correct EPRL selection selected, so a serious study has to be done to understand the array of A/T Modes and on what each EPRL mode does or what it can allow you to do on the Sperry A/T facia...  confusing?
     
    Yes very and certainly in those very, very extreme high workload areas of takeoff and landing...  The system is known as the "Full Flight Regime Auto-Throttle System" (FFRATS), as the earlier B747's only had just a more basic IAS System and the FFRATS is very well modeled here by Felis.
     

     
    ...  once in a level flight you can switch back on the AIR-CON PACKS (All three in sequence), and turn off the ANTI-SKID and BODY GR STRG switches on the OHP and the passenger "seat belt/smoking" signs. Now you need to control of the speed, so the A/T Mode is set to SPEED - CON (Continuous) and now the throttles will follow the set speed.
     

     
    Select your AUTO PILOT ENGAGE (Command) left or right, but not both) and set to either HDG (Heading) or VOR LOC (VOR-LOCK) if using a VOR radial. To connect into your flight plan (CIVA or FMS), you switch on the INS switch for both pilots, situated far left/right of the glaresheid (RADIO-INS switches between your RADIO frequency or FMS-INS system) and turn the lower selection switch to INS, in most cases you would have to do a DIR-TO edit on the FMS to get the current waypoint selection...  here you are to a point flying blind as these early 742s don't have a navigation display to show you your route? there is no helper pop-out panel either.
     
                        
     
    With the hard turns done on the BCN NATPI 1N Departure, it is time to climb to altitude...  again the decision is based on weight, a heavy TOW will mean a lower altitude, then a stepping up to your cruise altitude (after burning off some fuel/weight), or like here in going straight up to FL 360 (36,000ft) with that now set with ALT SEL (to hold the altitude when acquired). Back to EPR and and select IAS, this will climb the aircraft at the best vertical speed, and hold your current speed at the same time...  however I found the aircraft hunted badly between holding the speed and the vertical speed, but you can also use the V/S selection under CLB (Climb), but remember to adjust the climb power as you lose A/T control, and I found that far more smoother and I felt more in control with the V/S choice. (note this is a beta, and the IAS climb aspect may be refined in the release version)
     

     
    There are a few considerations with Felis's Boeing 747-200...  as noted the cockpit workload is horrendous, and you can't hide that fact, as you are a single entity doing the work of three people in the cockpit, the checklists really help, and hand created flow charts really help as well...  but it is not easy?
     
    Framerate is also quite high, with xEnviro switched on I was down in the middle/low 20's of framerate, and it is not a nice place to be, so if you have a weak computer you will certainly struggle, there is a lot of bulk and complex systems working here, and it shows on the Plugin Admin Performance charts (I as again will note this version is a beta I am flying... so the release version may be more refined, but I doubt it).
     

     
    The Boeing 747 is not called the "Queen of the Skies" for nothing...  it is a magnificent aircraft in the air. Sounds are very good, but the cockpit far removed form the engine sources and so it is generally quiet sitting up front...   The 747 is a long distance performer, and the aircraft is in it's total element in this aspect.
     
    One area you don't want to get yourself into is when you get a nasty pitch, it is a nasty 747 trait. So if you see a severe nose up position, you pull the power back and get the nose down and quickly, as you can't power your way out of it, and as in most cases you will lose the aircraft... so use the eagle eye consistently on climbing to watch that speed above everything else, always keep the 747 level, smooth and fast with no sudden rises in the pitch.
     

     
    A total of 393 of the 747-200 versions had been built when production ended in 1991. Of these, 225 were -200B, 73 were -200F, 13 were -200C, 78 were -200M, and 4 were military. Remember the two VC-25As "Air Force One" aircraft are also based on the -200 version.
     
    Performance: Max Speed is 939 km/h (507 kn), but Economy Speed is usually around 907 km/h (490 kn) or around M.85. Range is 6,560 nmi - 12,150 km[c], most will think the -200 can fly the distances like the -400, but the later aircraft's range was quite more substantial at 7,730 nmi - 14,320 km(c)...  The differences were shown in the earlier -200 flights to the later -400 flights from Australia to Europe, the -400 would stopover only in Singapore to refuel (I once did an epic Narita (Toyko) to Heathrow (London) service, but the average Australia to Europe -200 service was Australia - Singapore - Bahrain - Europe, so that extra fuel stop back then was always required.
     
    This BCN to LHR is only 707.09 mi (1,137.96 km) so I am not really pushing the aircraft's performance envelope in this review...   notable is that there is no MACH conversion on the Sperry or the Speed Instrument, so it is quite hard to home in on the exact .M speed.
     
    So once at altitude (make sure you "Hold" the altitude by selecting "ALT HOLD), you can then hold the .M (Mach) as well...  you can't actually select a mach speed, so you have to adjust the speed to the .M you want (.840) then select the A/T Mode "MACH" and the CRZ setting to "HOLD" it at that speed (only the IAS speed can be actually changed and selected in the SPEED mode).
     

     
    You feel the weight of the aircraft as you descend as well. You also have to make the decision to go down as well as there are no NAV MAP markers or TOD helpers, it all has to be done via your own maths heightxspeed to distance. As the immense Boeing falls the speed will rise considerably so you have to control that aspect also, mostly by using the airbrakes...  2,000 fpm is about right, descend any faster and you will struggle to control the speed...  after a few flights though and I was able to descend without using the airbrakes, while still keeping control of the descent speed.
     

     
    The Tablet supplies all the "Landing Perf" preferences for (F) Flap positions, landing distances and speeds... the speed bugs can also now be set ready for landing as well, no need to shut off the Air-Conditioning Packs on landing, but the ANTI-SKID and BODY GR STRG switches still need to reactivated.
     

     

     
    Heading into the landing circuit for EGLL Rwy 25L, I reduce the speed (185 knts) and extend the flaps 10º, the buffeting starts and so does the drag again, but the B742 is very stable...  going back a decade and the differences to the earlier XPFW B747 is huge, but the same 747 feel still shines through over the age.
     
    LHR is directly ahead, but then sitting over my right shoulder as I turn to BIG VOR (Biggin Hill) at OCK (Ockham)...
     

     
    ...  I am using the ROXOG 1H chart, but the 25º approaches are always messy to avoid the built up areas of London.
     

     
    ON the final turn into 25L at NEKSA (waypoint) I drop the gear with a "thud, thud, thud, thud", I can't see the engineers panel, but I do get the three "Gear Down" okay lights on the panel... take a chance to marvel at the detail of the gear, with the outers hanging backwards ready for an early touch. Still tons of work to do...  as I turn into 25L I select the ILS and switch back the RADIO-INS switches (both sides) to connect into the glideslope. Coming quickly into the Glideslope my speed is perfect (as noted by the FAST-SLOW indicator) and so I switch on the auto- LAND.
     

     
    On finals the full triple slotted flap system is revealed...  triple slotted flaps extend downward and rearward away from the wing in three sections. The trailing edge of one section forms a duct with the leading edge of the section behind it to force air down and over the top of the flap, also known as "Fowler flaps", which increase the area of your wing by extending out on rails or tracks, and the 747 takes the extended Fowler flap idea to the extreme...
     

     

     
    ...  the classic 747 "Bird of Prey" look with those huge talons hanging below as you are now slow at a 152 knts and swooping into the airport.
     
    Initial Buffet Speed is around 100 knts, after that you stall and fall out of the air. I will admit to using the SPEED A/T on the final, I have landed with the A/T off and manually bringing the aircraft in, but using the SPEED does help with the workload, and if you get your manual thrust position wrong (even slightly), the 747 will easily float and not flare correctly, again it needs practise and skill to get the flare right.
     
    "If you are not nervous at this critical point, then you will still get ending up with that frighting feeling soon"
     

     
    Over half a century this was a familiar image of a BOAC/British Airways 747 arriving at Heathrow...  sadly it will be so no more.
     

     
    But in X-Plane and with Felis's marvel, you can keep the flag flying a bit longer...  the outers touch first, then the inners and the runway is now again holding the aircraft, the power comes down and so does the nose, quickly you pull the reverser handles to unleash the reverse thrust, and very effective the reverse power is as well, as is the AUTO-BRAKE OHP...  sitting this high, your down, but it still looks like you are still flying way above the runway!
     

     
    Reverse engine thrust noise is excellent, as are all the sounds here, the airbrakes also pop-up on touch, but I will admit, that setting the "Armed" position is very ambiguous, sometimes the airbrakes act, and sometimes they don't, the lever needs a more of a "thunk" and "chunk" feel to know they are armed correctly?
     

     

     
    Speed rubs off very effectively, and you only need a light touch of the brakes to slow down, the really slow landing speed of around 150 knts really helps in this aspect. Suddenly the 747 again feels as big as it is, as you taxi into the older Terminal Two complex...   it was home to BOAC after all, and a newer British Airways -400 crosses your path, that is how big a 747 is on the outside.
     

     
    My bay is 325, and the 747-200 is a (very) tight fit... external power via the EP, and engine shutdown...  and thankfully the thirsty fuel counters will finally stop revolving, Greta Thunberg will now be more happy with you...
     

     
    ...  now you can watch (very slowly) as your aircraft deplanes, love that, but it takes a lot of time to do so in real time.
     
    Complex, heavy workload, loads of checklists, powerful, demanding... Felis's magnificent Boeing 747-200 is everything and more!
     

     
    Liveries
    There is a HUGE selection of liveries for this Felis Boeing 747, as there is an army of painters creating pretty well every livery you could think of, with a smatter of the Classics and late 80's and even some modern liveries...   Download quality can be quite variable as some like the KLM (In three states of wear) are simply excellent, but I saw some with some very poor lines and very average texture detail...  but most presented are simply excellent.
    These are the default liveries provided in the package; Aerolíneas Argentinas - LV-MLO, Avianca HK-200e, Japan Air Lines JA8113, KLM - PH-BUE, Korean Air Lines 80's, Pan Am Old - N728PA, Qantas - VH-EBL, SAA - ZS-SAM, TWA N304TW, United Airlines N160UA and Virgin Atlantic - G-VOYG...   there is a blank livery and a paintkit available.
     

     
    The selections available are really quite wide, and should really cover everyone's taste and requirements, a few are noted here are my personal favorites; Qantas 82 (Brilliant), Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS), BOAC, British Airlines Landor, TAP, Aer Lingus, Cathay Pacific (Spirit) and City of Everett, notable is that the launch livery for the Boeing 747 was for the -100 model, but it looks brilliant on the -200!
     

    ___________________
     
    Summary
    If one aircraft is worthy of the title of "Classic" it is the Boeing 747-200 Series. Not only in the significance of the way the aircraft literally  changed aviation, but pretty much in every aspect of the modern world we fly in today, the significance of also being a GOAT or the "Greatest of all Time" is also a timely reminder of the changes in the world since the aircraft's debut in the early seventies, and more so after the debacle of the earlier Boeing 747-100's introduction.
     
    Felis Planes aircraft have been usually very Russian in context, like his last release of the Tu-154M and also an AN-24 and Yak 40, so a big and significant aircraft such as this Boeing 747-200, is a very brash departure for him.
     
    This is a project that can not to be taken lightly. These where the "on the cusp" aircraft between the older clockwork and valve style aircraft to the glass electronic/ECAM cockpits of today, and they are seriously complex machines...  probably the most complex airliners ever created with their three person crews and the myriad of exposed systems. You have to admire any developer who wants to take them on and deliver these labyrinthine monsters in code, and that is also all for you to work out and understand... the workload in these aircraft is simply staggering, as to note as you are only one person entity, doing the flying for three people.
     
    What is delivered here is an outstanding simulation. Modeling wise it is complete and excellent, and even overwhelming in it's delivery of a fully functioning 70's aircraft cockpit with the classic JT9D-7 engines and excellent fully modeled quad landing gear bogies. Fully completed cabins of three classes also delivers that early classic 747 experience. Both AviTab and the JARDesign GHD (Ground Handling Deluxe) plugins are used, with excellent interactive tablet tools and those invaluable checklists, notable is both the standard X-Plane FMS system and a custom three place CIVA INS (Delco Carousel IV-A Inertial Navigation System) are also installed as is Saso Kiselkov’s Libradio and OpenWXR plugins. Overall brilliance can be seen everywhere you look, period systems, excellent lighting, active switchgear and most of all that classic 747 feel and quality.
     
    Notable is that there is a lot going on here, so framerate on the size of the model and it's complexity can be hard on light computers. The cabins are a bit plain and very, very over-bright (so work is still needed there), and currently the main cabin doors don't open (the three cargo doors do), but Felis notes that updates will follow quickly and soon...  a save between flights would be a really nice option as there is a lot to reset every time before a new flight.
     
    Certainly not an aircraft for the uninitiated, and even the pro's will need a lot of time to work through the complex procedures and the special distinctive 747 flying behaviors... certainly the Felis 747 delivers a massive reward for the ones that dedicate themselves to the machine, and you could even float the idea that the aircraft is a new era step up in complexity for not only the X-Plane Simulator, but for simulation as a whole... a big statement... but then this is a massive aircraft, a totally overwhelming aircraft, but an incredible amazing simulation...  Highly regarded and recommended.
    ___________________
     

     
    Yes! the Boeing 747-200 Classic by Felis Planes is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here :
     
    Boeing 747-200 Classic
    Price is US$70.00
     
    Features Accurate systems: electric system with all its buses and current calculations fuel system, that requires proper fuel management fire detection system with dual loop sensors 4 channel system pneumatic system with actual pressure calculations custom pressurization and air-conditioning system fully custom autopilot with autoland function autothrottle system separate from the autopilot with EPR limiting system radios are powered by Totoriko's libradio and openWXR plugins, fully integrated into aircraft's systems FMOD sounds (engines sounds by TSS) crew voices Detailed modeling: fully modeled exterior with lots of accurate animations passenger cabin highly detailed cockpit with each button, switch and knob functional historic liveries of the most known airlines, ever used 747-200 PBR textures Electronic Flight Bag: fuel and load calculators refueling and load managers ground service controls INS helper to align and manage flightplans performance calculator automatic checklists Fully custom Delco Carousel IV-A Inertial Navigation System (CIVA INS) 3 CDU units works separately  triple-mix mode REMOTE function to populate waypoints and DME info single and dual DME update function fully integrated into aircraft system, no separate plugins required Upcoming features: VR support Shared Flight and SmartCopilot profiles LTN-92 nav system custom failures more details and animations in cabin  
    Requirements
    X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 1.1 GB Current and Review version : 1.0 (September 16th 2021)   The AviTab Plugin is required for this aircraft Ground Handling Deluxe Plugin by JARDesign is highly recommended   Installation and documents:
    Download is 1.06Gb. Installation size in your Aircraft folder is 1.78Gb. (with the set of custom twelve liveries installed)
      Documents Felis_747_Autopilot.pdf Normal_Procedures.pdf INS.pdf 747_Cockpit.pdf It is highly recommended to read all the documents before flying the B742 aircraft, it's systems are complicated and require study to understand the procedures before using
     
    Most of the liveries in production or completed can be found and downloaded here...   742 Liveries (Google Drive) _____________________
      Aircraft Review by Stephen Dutton
    17th September 2021
    Copyright©2021: X-Plane Reviews
     
    Review System Specifications: 
    Computer System: Windows  - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit -32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 8Gb - Samsung Evo 1TB SSD - Sound : Yamaha Speakers YST-M200SP
    Software:   - Windows 10 - X-Plane 11.55
    Plugins: Global SFD plugin US$30.00 : Environment Engine by xEnviro US$69.90 : RK Apps XPRealistic v2 - US$34.99 : Ground Handling Deluxe Plugin by JARDesign US$14.95 (recommended)
    Scenery or Aircraft
    - LEBL - Barcelona XP by Aerosoft (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$27.99
    - EGLL - Airport London-Heathrow by Aerosoft (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$29.99
     
    (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
     

     
  11. Thanks
    Stephen got a reaction from Kiwiflyer in Aircraft Review : JRX Design Bell 407 v1.30 for X-Plane 11 and 12   
    Aircraft Review : JRX Design Bell 407 v1.30 for X-Plane 11 and 12  
     
    A derivative of the Bell 206L-4 LongRanger, Bell 407 is a four-blade, single-engine, civil utility helicopter that uses the four-blade, soft-in-plane design rotor with the composite hub developed for the United States Army's OH-58D Kiowa Warrior, instead of the two-blade, semi-rigid, teetering rotor of the 206L-4. So the breed line is from the famous "Jetranger", but the 407 is the far bigger and powerful relation to the family.
     
    The Bell 407's fuselage is 8 inches (20 cm) wider, increasing internal cabin space, and includes 35% larger main cabin windows. The more powerful Rolls-Royce/Allison 250-C47 turboshaft allows an increase in Maximum Takeoff Weight and improves performance at hotter temperatures and/or higher altitudes. The helicopter has standard seating for two crew and five cabin seats.
     

     
    In 1993, Bell began the development of the New Light Aircraft as a replacement for its Model 206 series. The program resulted in the 407, a development of Bell's LongRanger. A 206L-3 LongRanger was modified to serve as the 407 demonstrator. The demonstrator used hardware for the 407 and added molded fairings to represent the 407's wider fuselage then under development.
     
    The demonstrator was first flown in 1994, and the 407 program and was publicly announced at the Heli-Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada, in January 1995. The first 407 prototype (C-GFOS) then accomplished its maiden flight on June 29, 1995, and the second prototype (C-FORS) followed on July 13, 1995. After a short development program, the first production 407 (C-FWQY/N407BT) flew on November 10, 1995. Since then almost 1500+ aircraft have been built.
     
    In 2021, only three years ago JRX Design started in the X-Plane Simulator with the dual SA 341B and SA 342J Gazelle, then their next release was the Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm Bo 105 DBS-4, a big name, but also a lot of helicopter, which was updated only 12 months ago to X-Plane 12. All sensational and quality designs.
    This is JRX's latest release with the Bell 407. Notable is that the release(s) are separate for both the X-Plane 12 version or the X-Plane 11 version, as they are not packaged together here. We will of course focus on the XP12 version for the review, in details the X-Plane 11 is identical, but missing the X-Plane 12 dynamic features.
     
    This is not the first Bell 407 for X-Plane. That was the excellent Bell 407 from Dreamfoil Creations, a standard bearer for it's time with a huge feature list and flying dynamics. Currently still only X-Plane 11, but with the release of the terrific Schweizer S300CB, it noted the developer was back in a big way, and he notes that the Bell 407 (and the AS350 B3+) are now being developed for X-Plane 12, expect in a few months.
     
    So that obviously sets up a quandary, which would be the best B407 to buy? A hard one even for me, as both as we shall see are very highly quality developed machines. The B407 from JRX is available now and for X-Plane 12, but the Dreamfoil 407 will have a bigger feature list and personal familiarity...  it is a very, very tough choice. Note, that since this review has been published, JRX Design has since updated the 407 to v1.30 (forget v1.10 as it was a non-starter). There were a few new additions, the biggest new feature was the CINEFLEX camera feature, and that item has now been included in the review.
     
    Design wise JRX have a superlative quality record, and to scale, and that aspect shows here. The 407 is beautifully done in modeling terms with excellent glass. Odd here though is you can't hide the glass reflections (inside or external), but it is still very well done with both front and rear doors with window (opening) hatch inserts. The huge fuel filler is excellent. Notable is that the riveting is drawn on and not modeled with highlights, same with the engine cover latches. It's well done but noticeable, but the external panel bolts are nicely 3d. The engine internals are also images, again highly realistic, so you admire them and are not as so distracted by them being only 2d
     

     
    Rear tail boom, horizontal stabiliser and upright tail support are well modeled, with the original orange/white tail-skid.
     
    The heart of a helicopter are the rotors and their assemblies....
     
    The main rotor is a 35 foot diameter, soft-in-plane flex beam (flapping flexure) type yoke/hub with four interchangeable blades. Elastomeric technology is incorporated and allows for blade movement. The blades and yoke are all composite materials. The rotor is designed to rotate at 413 RPM at 100% Nr.
     

     
    As rotor heads go it is very, very simple design, just the tower and four pushrods. Plate construction is really good, as are the arms, but we are going to lose points because only the collective bite is animated (13 degrees of twist), shame as we know the Dreamfoil 407 is fully animated, but the movements here are good.
     

     
    Rear tail-rotor is intricately designed, great detail and fine work. The yaw animations are also well done and visible.
     

     
    All doors are animated, can be opened externally and internally, and they can also be removed, but only all and not individually. Left side also takes away the cam centre panel, for a very wide open space for the Medi-Vac. So you really do wish for more selection on which doors you want removed as you can't slide the rear doors open in flight, missing also is the long and short window door panel option.
     

     
    Rear cabin seats five, or four chunky seats and a tight centre child seat in the rear. Default colour is a light grey with the very nice "Bell" logo on the seat back, the trim material is all very nicely done.
     

     
    Seating colours change to the selected external livery, with four choices in Light Grey, Red, Green and Dark Grey.
     

     
    The familiar restricted cabin roof is well reproduced here, making the rear cabin feel very authentic to those familiar with a 206/406 environment.
     

     
    Forward pilot seats are also very chunky for a helicopter, but very well designed and created. Again the materials are of a quality nature, a feel real effect if viewed in closely of the excellent chosen materials, the above roof switch and CB-Fuse panel is also excellent. All circuit breakers are active and animated.
     

     
    Side doors are beautifully realistically molded, with the authentic bell 407 logos and opening slide window, same in the rear.
     

     
    There is the option for single or duel controls, the left side pilot's cyclic and collective are very basic, with just a throttle built in. The right side pilot has a more detailed collective head, with FLOAT activation and lights with SEARCH, LDG (landing) and Start/Disengage switch.
     

     
    Chunky could also describe the instrument panel, for a small helicopter the 206/407 instrument panels are massive. But the instrument arrangement is quite simple. Top left is a Radio Altmeter, Engine readouts (TRQ - Torque, MGT, NR/NP - RPM, Davtron Clock/OAT/Volt meter, Fuel PSI-AMPS, FUEL Qty and Gearbox and Engine Oil pressure/Temp). Flying instruments include Airspeed, Artificial Horizon, Altimeter. Main NR/NP Tachometer dual gauge, Bendix/king HSI (Horizontal Situation Indicator), Vertical Speed instrument. OBS (Omni-Bearing Selector) for ADF 1/2, OBS NAV 1 and Turn rate dial.
     

     
    Lower is the avionic stack, with a custom GNS 530, KX 155A COM/NAV 1 radio, another KX 155A COM/NAV 2 radio, Bendix/King KMA 30 radio, Bendix/King KT74 Transponder and bottom (flat) a Bendix/King KR87 ADF radio. The metal rudder pedals are also highly designed and have pretty Bell logos.
     
    Panel can be set in either a light or dark tone
     

     
    There are two sets of headphones, in that their cables drag across the cockpit and obscures the instrument panel, you can click (lower volume) to hide the right headset, but you can't click on the left co-pilot one to hide it? so it hangs there! and right in your view line (It can thankfully be hidden another way as we shall see later). v1.20 and the Co-Pilot headset can now be thankfully also hidden directly via a "hotspot" click.
     

     
    Power on and the panel is beautifully done, love the instrument contrast to the red radio readouts. Then simply glorious at night!
     

     
    Caution Warning Panel (CWP) is very authentic, you can also test the systems via the button right panel. CWP can be set to BRIGHT or DIM illumination.
     

     
    Other internal lighting includes rear bulkhead adjustable spot light, plus the same as a cabin (switch) light, rear cabin lights again look very nice in the darker light, single overhead panel switch, or the individual rear switches can be used. Overhead panel lighting is again sensational.
     

     
    Menu
    To access the menu, you press the "Tablet" button on the far right top of the instrument panel. It is in the design of the RWP GTN 750 module. The tablet is extremely well intergrated with a support arm to the instrument binnacle. There are four option tabs on the left; MENU 1, MENU 2, RXP TAB, Avi TAB and LIVERIES.
     

     
    MENU 1
    You could call Menu 1 the options tab set into five categories (not labeled). First two, with first the Static Elements, Covers, Tiedowns and Flags, second is the external "GPU" (Ground Power Unit). Note the "Rotor Park Brake" has to be down to activate the Static Elements.
     

     
    Next category covers the pilots and passengers; you have "Fly With Copilot" that puts a crew member in the left seat, notable is when you do this that headset disappears from your POV. You also have "Crew Helmets" but those pesky hanging headsets then return... damn. Pressing "Crew Headsets" will hide only the Pilot's headset, but not the Co-Pilot's. Final option here is the "Passengers", which inserts two lovely ladies in the rear cabin
     

     
    If you adjust the X-Plane "Weight & Balance" menu, it makes no difference or adds in NO more passengers or cargo. In this area the JRX is limited in options
     
    Next category covers options; "Dual Flight Controls", and Doors ON/OFF...   Under the rear there is a large "Searchlight", or you can have the "Emergency Floats" installed on the skids. There are upper and lower "Wire Cutters" and last is the "ROTOR DAMPENER" cap.
     

     
    New in v1.20 were some very nice rear "Bear Paws"
     

     
    Last category is the set of options for the (optional) Reality RXP GTN 750. There is also a "Autopilot Unit" or Stability Augmentation Systems (SAS), this panel is placed lower right on the instrument panel.
     

     
    Last two options here is the "AviTab" tool (Plugin required), and the selection of the Light/Dark instrument facia.
     

     
    Also on the right side of "Menu 1" are three "Engine Exceedances" readouts, these can also be reset in TRQ (Torque), MGT and NG RPM
     

     
    Listed top of the panel is the current "Version"
     
    MENU 2
    In this tab you set the aircraft's configuration. Top is the "Fuel Load" in 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 and 1/1 or FULL. Lower left is the changing weights as you select the (Fuel) and Weight/Payload selections right, "ALL UP WEIGHT" and "MAXIMUM TAKEOFF WEIGHT" must balance. Lower are three options with CofG (Centre of Gravity), "Vibrations" Off-x1, x2,x3...  last is the selection of the FOV or "Field Of View".
     
     

     
    RXP/Avi TAB
    Are both quick button selections of the Reality WP GTN 750 and the Avitab tool
     
    LIVERIES
    You can select your livery via the tablet, and it gives you an image of the 407. There are 21 liveries, that covers a wide spectrum of services and countries, all are excellent.
     
     











     
    CINEFLEX
    A new feature added to the JRX B407 in the update v1.30, was the excellent CINEFLEX camera system.
     


     
    The Cineflex V14 is a 5-axis gyro stabilized camera system that delivers images completely free from even the smallest vibrations. It has a Sony Cinealta HDC 1500 camera integrated in the carbon-fibre housing that rotates a full 360°, and all movements are operated from within the helicopter.
     
    The first place you would look to activate the camera is the JRX Menu, but it's not located on there? The Camera system is activated by the "Camera System" switch, on the overhead panel, row below the circuit breakers/fuses, far right. Switching it on comes with a disclaimer from the developer...  it will deliver a 25% FPS hit on your framerate (any internal to external X-Plane viewpoint, usually has this same negative effect). It is a significant hit, so if the CINEFLEX is not in use it is best switched off.
     

     
    Activated you get the camera pod assembly now visible, slung under the nose of the B407, the modeling is excellent with the detail and the quality of the camera system.
     
    On the left side of the instrument panel, there is now positioned a cowled screen and operators panel...
     

     
    The panel has two sets of camera operation knobs, and four buttons. Power, Overlay, Reset and Park. "Power" is to switch on the system, "Overlay" puts a frame and recording data on the screen, including REC, Timecode, Resolution, Camera Coordinates, Airspeed, Heading, Altitude, Track, (camera) Pitch & Zoom
     

     
    "Park" will foldup and store the camera rearwards, "Reset" will set the camera to it's forward "ready" mode.
     

     
    Left small knob is the "Zoom"... 0%-100%
     

     
    Right is the knob/joystick to adjust the camera angle, ROLL, ROTATE and UP and DOWN angles.
     

     
    All the camera movement controls can be set as commands, for keyboard or joystick (HAT) actions, this allows easier control while flying. The CINEFLEX is expertly done, and a great addition to the 407.
    ___________
    Flying the Bell 407
    If you open the JRX 407, it will have the annoying habit of just shutting down again? even if the "Start with engines running" tickbox is active. There is a trick here...
     

     
    The issue is caused by the "Idle" button and throttle being set to closed, this is the shutoff point to kill the engine. To start you have to de-click the "IDLE-REL" and give the 407 a bit of throttle (80). Once running, then you can go back to the idle stop, but don't press the IDLE-REL, if not it will just shutdown the engine again...  or your back to square one.
     

     
    The "Start" switch is on the same collective, and as long as the fuel is on, then a press and hold of the switch is all that is needed. At first you don't think it is going to fire, then at once around 50% NR rpm, the Allison 250-C47 turbio-shaft engine (813 shp (606 kW)) gets itself together and your in the flying business...  its all a FADEC-controlled engine (Full Authority Digital Engine Control), as the FADEC system is designed to reduce pilot work load and increase engine reliability by fully automating the start procedure, and holding engine parameters to tighter tolerances in flight. It feels excellent in this JRX machine...
     

     
    ....   then twisting the throttle to "FLY" will increase the NR % to 100% 
     

     
    Does the JRX 407 sound good...  brilliant in fact. The start whine is excellent, so is the throttle adjustments through the spectrum, then the full rpm chop is really, really good, I've flown on a 407 (and a 206) and it is as good as you will get. I couldn't get any noisy internal blade slap, but external blade sounds in movement when in flight manoeuvres are excellent.
     
    Whoa!  off the ground with a bit of slight cyclic back, and a feel upwards movement of the collective, and you go into a perfect hover...
     

     
    ...   "Oh I like this!" I've had my time with wiggly nervous helicopters for a fair while, "This one is smooooth". Already happy, a bit more collective and a push forward of the cyclic and you are up & away. 206/407 usually need a bit of low nose to get them moving... not too much here and the speed builds very quickly.
     

     
    Bell later replaced the tail rotor pedals with the taller and slightly closer-to-the-pilot versions, as many pilots complained they were too high, as they preferred the 206 pedals than the 407's.
     

     
    The Bell 407 has a maximum speed of 140 kn (160 mph, 260 km/h), with an economical cruise speed of 133 kn (153 mph, 246 km/h). The range is 324 nmi (373 mi, 600 km) with a service ceiling of 18,690 ft (5,700 m).
     
    There is the vibration option...  OFF is no vibration, x1 is not really a lot, x2 is about perfect as x3 is very, very noticeable shaking, really it feels like your blades are coming loose!
     

     
    I was very impressed with the Autopilot Unit or Stability Augmentation Systems (SAS). It has had some fine tuning in v1.10, but it felt fine to me...  you can LVL (Level) then hit the AP, then HDG (Heading) and ALT (Altitude) and the transition in flight is excellent, only a slight lift as you go to the auto system. V/S (Vertical Speed) changes are 5 points either way, but honestly, if your not climbing high, then unlock the ALT and add a little collective to go up, then reselect ALT at your set altitude, the same to go down with less collective. Coming out of auto is good as well, but you need to disconnect the HDG and ALT selections before you disconnect the AP itself for a smooth transition, or it bumps coming out.
     

     
    Heading changes under the SAS are nice and smooth, long and with not any tight jumpy turns, so excellent...  yes very impressed. Really the 407 is so nice to fly manually (balanced when trimmed), you won't rely on the SAS, it is a relaxing controls machine, even distances are easy.
     

     
    Time to head back to the Jay Stephen Hooper Memorial Heliport. The 407 has a reputation for solid control feel in flight. That, combined with plenty of power, makes the 407 a real performer. The 206 (Jetranger) feels heavier than the 407 on the controls, so most pilots prefer the 407's flight control’s hydraulic boost, it is quite heavy if you turn the assisted system off.
     

     
    The Bell 407 is not a low-inertia system, it is also not a high-inertia system either like the JetRanger. So the feel is set somewhere in between, in making your approach it can be quite different. Autorotating the 407 going down I found there was still a high degree of maneuverability during the glide (power off), then the transition to Effective translational lift (ETL) was okayish, as you have to be aware on the loss of speed to avoid too much sink, so it's best to transition further out than closer to the pad in case of a sudden loss of lift.
     

     
    The flare and touchdown also requires a different technique than in the JetRanger. Timing is more critical because less energy is stored in the lighter-weight spinning rotors and the more collective pitch is used to cushion the helicopter’s touchdown. In addition, the pilot holds the helicopter in a nose-high attitude and touches down on the heels of the skids. It’s a fairly standard procedure for a lower-inertia rotor. One warning though is the 407 in the low hover is very susceptible to the swing effect, "Mast Bumping" is only present with a 2 blades rotor ...like R22 , R44, B206, but I found here the pendulum effect was very pronounced, the wrong (too heavy) input, and the 407 will swing quite violently, with the obvious results, so keep the final inputs extremely small, even pull away and do a new approach to get the procedure right.
     

     
    A few hours rest and I am airborne again, now twilight...  The 407's external lighting is excellent, except for in one area. There is a "Landing" light in the nose, and two amazing flashing strobes underside, rear red beacon and Navigation/Strobes on the horizontal stabiliser fences, the best though are the fantastic "Logo" spots on the side, I totally absolutely loved the lit logo look at night!
     

     
    It is mostly excellent, but the collective switch "Spotlight" created nasty ant lit marks all around the nose and windscreen, so you need to keep it switched off.
     

     
    Now darker, and I am cruising low and fast over the Freeways & Highways Los Angeles County...  my favorite Heli-Pilot pastime, the 407 is simply brilliant here, easy to cruise... did I say fast.
     

     
    In roles (or role-play) you are restricted here by the JRX door arrangement, there are no sliding doors on the rear, and not being able to individually remove, say the rear left door, restricts your role playing. Scouting for "News" I am playing a version of the "Nightcrawler", yes the movie , as I love this livery and the cruising above the LA landscape at night. I would have loved an open door, even a cameraman shooting the streets, but there is not even a Medi-Vac version, so it all feels all a bit limited if you wanted to be part of the action.
     

     
    So the JRX Bell 407 is excellent to fly, even say a novice could handle the aircraft and enjoy it's abilities... too benign, no I didn't get that feeling at all, it just felt right and the 407 was a totally enjoyable dynamic experience...  then what a way to end the night flying with a visit to that famous "Hollywood" sign...   perfect.
     

    _____________
    Summary
    The Bell 407 is a four-blade, single-engine, civil utility helicopter that uses the four-blade, soft-in-plane design rotor with a composite hub. So the breed line is from the famous "Jetranger", but the 407 is the far bigger and more powerful relation to the family.
     
    The release(s) of the JRX 407 here are separate for both the X-Plane 12 version or the X-Plane 11 version, as they are not packaged together. So make your choice wisely as they both cost the same.
     
    JRX Design are now very accomplished developers, the Bell 407 is their third release for the X-Plane Simulator, after the earlier dual SA 341B and SA 342J Gazelle and the Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm Bo 105 DBS-4.
     
    Notably the aircraft is created to a very high standard, beautiful modeling and lovely intricate details to scale. However rivets and engine fences are images and not 3d, but the main exterior bolts are modeled. Rotor hub is exceedingly well designed, but only has semi-animations for (twist) collective, and tail yaw. Glass is excellent (maybe the rear windows are bit dark) and there are no reflections disable for the internally or externally for the windows. Cabin and instruments are exceptionally well done, and all is very quality work in feel and look, but there are restrictions with only a singe door hide, and there are not many options for different fitout versions (Medi-Vac, lift hook) and role-playing that is mostly common with Helicopter packages. Lighting internally and externally is again excellent, but for ant whites around the frames with the spotlight feature. Although the official Bell 407 Manual and Procedures are very nice (authentic), a JRX Design manual was also required here.
     
    The updated v1.30 also comes with the sensational CINEFLEX camera system, hung on the nose, you have a full control of the camera and it's storage, v1.30 also has some other nice visual and menu tweaks as well.
     
    The JRX Bell 405 flies very well, I loved it as it was certainly not a edgy machine to fly, too benign, no I don't think so, so great for first timers and novice fliers, performance and dynamics feel also perfect.
     
    Would I like JRX Design to also do the famous 206 Jetranger? After this 407 I certainly think so, as it would be an excellent idea to do a fly off of their different capabilities, but more options overall would be nice.
     
    I love the 407, to a point now it is my current favorite helicopter to fly, I don't love niggly machines, I want to fly, hover and do things without the stress, throw in the sheer quality and X-Plane 12 realism and the JRX Bell 407 is a worthy winner...    highly recommended.
    ________________
     

     
    The Bell 407 by JRX Design v1.30 is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here :
     
    JRX Bell 407 for X-Plane 12
    Priced at US$35.99
    Requirements
    X-Plane 12 (not for XP11. If you want the XP11 version, get it here )
    Windows, Mac or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 1.4 GB Current Version: 1.30 (January 28th 2024)   JRX Bell 407 for X-Plane 11
    Priced at US$35.99
    Requirements
    X-Plane 11 (not for XP12. if you want the XP12 version, get it here)
    Windows, Mac or Linux - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 1.4 GB Current Version: 1.30 (January 28th 2024)   Installation and documents:  download for the JRX Bell 407 is 1.38 Gb and the aircraft is deposited in the "Helicopters" X-Plane folder.
     
    Full Installation is 2.76Gb
     
    AviTab Plugin is required for this aircraft
     
    Documents supplied are:
    JRX Bell 407 - READ ME.txt Bell 407 - Operational Evaluation Board Report.pdf Bell 407 - Pilot Ground and Flight Procedures.pdf Bell 407 - Rotorcraft Flight Manual.pdf JRX BELL 407 - END-USER LICENSE AGREEMENT (EULA).txt  

     
    Documentation consists of three official documents that cover the 407 Flight Manual, Pilot Ground and Flight Procedures and Operational Evaluation Board Report...  but there is no JRX 407 Aircraft manual, that was badly needed and certainly required here.
     
    Designed by JRX Design
    Support forum for the JRX B407  
    Review System Specifications: 
    Windows  - 12th Gen IS1700 Core i7 12700K 12 Core 3.60 GHz CPU - 64bit -32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - PNY GeForce RTX 3080 10GB XLR8 - Samsung 970 EVO+ 2TB SSD
    Software:   - Windows 11 Pro - X-Plane 12.09rc3 (This is a Release Candidate review).
    Plugins: Traffic Global - JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00
    Scenery or Aircraft
    - Hooper Heliport (58CA) -
    ___________________________
     
    Review by Stephen Dutton'
    6th January 2024
    Copyright©2024: X-Plane Reviews
     
    (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
     

     
     
     
  12. Thanks
    Stephen got a reaction from Kiwiflyer in Release Classic Aircraft Review : Aircruiser 66-75 by Hangar 23   
    Release Classic Aircraft Review : Aircruiser 66-75 by Hangar 23 (note this review has now been updated to include v1.1 : Classic Aircraft Review Updated : Aircruiser 66-75 v1.1 by Hangar 23)
     
     
    Very early classic aircraft are very interesting, more so when they are so rare. This aircraft is about as rare as you could could imagine, only 23 of them were built between 1930 and 1938. But they have a significant place in Aviation history, only to be replaced by the United States federal regulations that prohibited single-engine transports on United States airlines, virtually eliminating future markets for the Aircruiser.
     
    Bellanca Aircruiser and Airbus were high-wing, single-engine aircraft built by Bellanca Aircraft Corporation of New Castle, Delaware. The aircraft was built as a "workhorse" intended for use as a passenger or cargo aircraft. It was available with wheels, floats or skis. The aircraft was powered by either a Wright Cyclone or Pratt or a Whitney Hornet engine. The Airbus and Aircruiser served as both commercial and military transports. The first Bellanca Airbus was built in 1930 as the P-100. An efficient design, it was capable of carrying 12 to 14 passengers depending on the cabin interior configuration, with later versions carrying up to 15.
     

     
    The Aircruiser's distinctive shape, gave it the moniker of "The Flying Ws" and this hardy design was still flying in Canada well into the 1970's . Is it a Bi-Plane, sort of, as the lower W is still a part aerodynamic surface. When you look at the design closely, it is extremely clever in holding up and bracing the main wing, as for also being a support for the landing wheels.
     

     
    The Aircruiser is a "Tail-Dragger", most were back in this 1930's period, but the early evolution of the multi-seat passenger aircraft is highly perceivable, back in the day, it was, still is a very innovative design. For an aircraft, it looks heavy, but sturdy is probably the best description
     
    Hangar 23 is a not really a new entrant to the X-Plane Developers affiliation, but a ex-TorqueSim developer. Still the Aircruiser is an interesting one in the choice of aircraft to debut their talents in doing their own Studio. Technical information of the Aircruiser is rare, but there are two surviving in existence, "CF-BTW," a 1938 model in the Ericson Collection in Madras, Oregon, incredibly the aircraft is still airworthy. The second is "CF-AWR" named the "Eldorado Radium Silver Express", built in 1935, and is under restoration at the Western Canada Aviation Museum in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
     
    Installation
    The download for the Aircruiser is 1.18GB, with an installation of 1.38Gb. But the installation file/folder system is a slightly complicated. Hangar 23 has selected to put the main Aircruiser file within a folder of a folder? So the first folder is "Aircraft" followed by a folder named "Hangar 23" , with the actual "Aircruiser" aircraft folder inside, or buried in layers of folders? Honestly the first "Aircraft" folder is not required, so just install the "Hangar 23" Folder directly into your X-Plane "Aircraft" folder with the Aircruiser folder inside.
     

     
    All the installation notes are in the excellent manual, but the doubled up "Aircraft" folder creates confusion... 
     

     
    Detail and modeling
    For an aircraft of this size, an installation size of 1.38Gb can only mean one thing, quality in detail. Remember this is a first time effort from Hangar 23, but the detail and quality is outstanding. Both an X-Plane 12 and X-Plane 11 versions are included in the package, but it is the XP12 version on show here with it's more exponential PBR (Physical Based Rendering) effects and lighting. And it really blows you away.
     

     
    X-PlaneReviews are usually quite lenient when the studio name is new, in overlooking sometimes even the obvious mistakes or poor areas of first time production...  But already with the quality of work behind Ulrich, you go straight into the "Masters" level, but this is still a first release from Hangar 23 is just outstanding...  and an highly impressive debut for the Studio!
     
    And all with an aircraft so rare...  the beauty of Simulation is that iconic and classical aircraft can be recreated, their forgotten time, brought back and to live again, or in this case fly again. At the core of this Aircruiser Simulation is just that very aspect, bringing the past alive again for you to absorb and interact with. 
     
    But this is outstanding work...  all the wing braces and support wires are sensationally done, every bolt, castle nut and Cotter Split Pins, are modeled here in detail, leading edge panels are worn and authentic, the struts in detail are excellent, you have to admire it all.
     

     
    If you are a detail junkie, who loves to spend time investigating the quality of the work, then you will love this aircraft, as it's a museum piece brought alive. The massive top wing looks canvas, and you can see the frame that the material covers, it's a lovely formed wing as well. Actually two separate wings, attached to the fuselage.
     

     
    This was the golden age of innovation for aircraft, the transition from wood, canvas to metal, so you get sometimes the mixture of the two eras in the one development as the changes moved on forward.
     
    The detail is just gobsmacking. The panels are perfect and so are the bolts that hold them in place, windows and it's thick glass are worn and glazed to perfection... The Cyclone SGR-1820 it is rated at 760 hp, as is the giant three-bladed geared propeller, and all gloriously there to admire. The engines internal intricate detail of metal and brass pipework is very impressive.
     

     
    The Aircruiser is flat sided, there are no curves in the doors and the windows are more nautical portholes than aircraft, but it's all beautifully done, and it is all built like a tank!
     

     
    The two main landing wheels hubs, tyres are massive, but simplistic as well, detail is right down to large CirClip to hold the rim onto the hub.
     

     
     There are four doors that can be opened, two small high cockpit access doors, one left passenger door, and a very big odd A shaped cargo door...  all four doors are so authentic to the design, with the Cargo door in two sections that folds.
     

     
    Honestly, it is like a flying shed inside, totally weird.
     

     
    The interior is impressively done, metal and wood dominate, SO much weight in the construction, how did this thing get off the ground?
     

     
    It's all metal piping and blocks of wood, many trees were felled in the creation of the interior, a far, far cry from the ultra clean, state-of-the-art LED lighting Airbus interiors...  this is doing it rough. The passenger seats are a pipeframe, with a strung canvas seat, you wouldn't want to go to far on them.
     
    Pilot seats are a metal bucket, the pilot gets the luxury of a cushion, the CoPilot the hard metal base. The cushion is required not for comfort, but to be elevated to see over the extremely high instrument panel.
     

     
    The yoke is a big hefty iron thing, beautifully skillfully designed and modeled, you can hide it via a hotspot centre yoke. The side quadrant is again excellent, with the Throttle (T), Propeller (P) and Mixture (M) levers, notable that in 90 years the controls are still as relevant then as now. Lower rudder pedals are also big hefty iron contraptions, you need to be Popeye with his strong arms and legs to match, to fly the Aircruiser.
     

     
    Notable are the two trim winders, one left for pitch/elevator adjustment, and another on the forward roof for the rudder trim. Point to make is that there is no visual trim setting, so you don't know if they are both centred or not, but a guide is two full winder rotations each way. Note the old fashioned brake lever and flap selector handle.
     

     
    Main instrument panel is amazing, this is simply a panel with inset instruments that is highly authentic. Note the boxed Whiskey Compass
     

     
    Again the layout is quite familiar... with a Standard Six layout. Top left is the Airspeed Indicator (MPH/KNTS), Vertical Speed Indicator (V/S), very basic Rate of Turn Indicator, below offset is a Directional Vacuum Gyro (Heading), Altmeter and Horizontal Reference (bank).
     
    Far left is a RPM dial, Manifold Pressure, and top right a CYL TEMP. Right panel has Volts, OAT (Outside AirPressure), Oil Temp/Pressure and Fuel Pressure...  top Ignition Switch, Fuel Gauges (twin), PPH (Pounds Per Hour) fuel flow and a ELGIN clock. Lower left are a row of switches that cover Battery, Generator, Nav (lights), Landing (light), Starter, Coil Booster, Fuel Pump, Panel Lights and Cabin Light. Far, far left is the fuel tank cock; Both, Left & Right.
     
    It's all so impressively well done, the flaked tired black metal facia is very authentic to an aged old aircraft of this generation.
     
     


    Menu
    There is a banner menu "Hangar23Aircruiser" that has two menu options; "Options" and "GPS Style"
     

     
    Options: There are six options, Autopilot Toggle, Strain Gauge Toggle, Real Autorudder Toggle, Steerable Tailwheel, Show Pilot and Use Clipboard.
     
    The Aircruiser comes with a very basic 2-Axis "Sparrow" Autopilot, basically a set "Holds" Pitch and Roll Rate. Second option is to add on a "Strain Gauge" or Trim indicator. Both are positioned lower centre panel
     

     
    We will go more into the "AutoRudder" in flight, but if you want to disconnect or activate the the AutoRudder you can do so via the menu option, you can also use the hotspot on the (front) Whiskey Compass to do the same action.
     

     
    The Tailwheel is steerable by the rudder pedals, but if you want a free castoring wheel, you can disconnect it via the "Steerable Tailwheel" option.
     

     
    There is the option to show or hide the pilot. He is fully animated in rudder and pitch (forwards & backwards) and seems to have his hands full in controlling the aircraft, he is very good here and well done.
     

     
    Next in the "options" menu is the "Use Clipboard". In the right side pocket there is a VR (Virtual Reality) clipboard (also clickable).
     

     
    This really the "Fuel & Weights" menu...  as you can adjust the fuel and Pilots, Passenger, Cargo weights by scrolling them in. They can be set in Lbs or Kgs and the "Load", "Empty" (weight) and Full Gross weight can be seen. You can "Save" your settings, and then "Load" them.
     
    Another note is that between flights the Aircruiser will save and reload the same settings to the next flight, until you adjust them.
     
    Last two separate items on the "Options" menu are "Reset AP Tuning" (Autopilot on/off) and "Reset AutoRudder Tuning", resets the rudder position to central.
     
    An option not shown in the menus, is that if the power is switched off, then the chocks are positioned on the front wheels.
     

     
    The second setting of the menu tab is the "GPS Style", here you can select between the Laminar GNS 530 GPS, or one of the two RXP (Realistic) GNS 530 or GNS 750 GPS units if you have that external additional option. I don't have the Realistic option so that install is not visible here. The GPS units are position on the roof forward, with also a default custom style COMM radio above, and a Transponder panel below.
     

    ____________
     
    Flying the Aircruiser 66-75
    You can't at all see out of the Aircruiser, the long nose is way up there, blocking any view, as the tail is way back down there behind you. The only option is to lean very far left to try to see the ground.
     

     
    You would think the Aircruiser being so old-fashioned would be a pain to start, but it's quite benign and easy as long as you do the right procedure. Fuel on "Both", Fuel Pump on, then the most important switch, the "Boost Coil" switch to on. Mixture just to above the (Auto) lean red marker...  then up the "Starter" switch, the prop will turn, then gradually fire into a running engine... 
     

     
    Both the start up and shutdown of the Cyclone SGR-1820 is exceptional, no fast artificial start or shut down here, but it all comes with stutters and engine positions that are very noticeable, as is the churn of the starter motor against the pressures "clock", "clocking" of the starting engine, its a great and a very realistic re-enactment of the starting, and then the stutter of the engine shutting down, I loved it.
     
    I have a horrible history of trying to control tail-draggers, spinning loose tail-wheels have given me loads of grief. But not here though... as mentioned you can disconnect the tail-wheel to be free, if you love that uncontrollable chaos. But for the rest of us the tail-wheel acts through the rudder pedals, but also through the usual "Tiller" yaw. This makes the Aircruiser very easy to manoeuvre around on the ground or on taxiways. Braking and the toe-brakes work normally as well.
     

     
    For once you not fighting the aircraft on the ground to go into the direction you want, but the view internally is hard work to keep it all on the narrow taxiway. So you have a habit of visually taxiing externally until you understand the aircraft more.
     
    Very important is to adjust the rudder trim 50%, or a full winder turn to the right. The SGR-1820 is a very powerful force on takeoff, the asymmetric thrust is huge, it pulls you so hard to the left, that even full rudder is required off the line...
     

     
    The Aircruiser for all it's massive weight is sprightly off the line, your working the pedals to find the right balance to keep the aircraft straight, it does thankfully nicely change direction tail-wise to your inputs, very quickly the tail is up at 40 MPH, and there is tons of lift from those wings, at 60 MPH+ and your now flying. The point from "off the line" to "Airborne" is very short, so no flaps are required, time to adjust your direction is short as well...  so once off the ground I was already veering right away from the runway, I didn't try to correct it, but just went with the flow and climbing turn, then leveled it all out straighter when higher. With practise with your rudder inputs you could keep it in more of a straight line out...  it's a total feel thing, a feel for the aircraft.
     

     
    Pitch trimming is nice, but I recommend a keyboard input than the badly positioned side wall-winder, same for the rudder trim on the roof.
     

       
    You have so much power, the Aircruiser is super fast for an aircraft of this size and age...  it's a very physical aircraft to fly, you use the rudder all the time, then finally finding the right amount of input to keep the aircraft in a straight line, a tough idea, with the amount of asymmetric thrust coming at you all the time. The 66-75, as featured here, could produce up to 730 hp from sea level through 5800 ft, where then the power built higher to ~760 hp
     

     
    Maximum speed is 144 kn (165 mph, 266 km/h), (but it feels far faster), Range is an amazing 608 nmi (700 mi, 1,130 km), and the Service ceiling is 22,000 ft (6,700 m), but the average cruising altitude is around 10,000ft, still fast and high for a 90 year old design.
     

     
    Hangar 23 has provided a tool, called the "AutoRudder function", a sort of A.I. tool to take the strain out of flying the Aircruiser. On the ground the rudder control functions as usual. So it was important to properly trim the aircraft prior to takeoff and landing. In flight, the autorudder system then takes control of the rudder, and will attempt to keep a slip angle as dictated by the yaw axis of the joystick. This allows the pilot to slip the aircraft even while the autorudder is active, such that even crosswind operations become possible with the system active. In other words it flies like the X-Plane tool when you have no yaw axis joystick, the wings are connected to the rudder.
     
    This gauge will merely prompts the pilot on the direction of trim needed to take load off the “servos”. Unlike the autopilot, the autorudder does not disconnect under a high strain, nor is it dependent upon the aircraft’s electrical system to operate (Cable operation).
     
    When activated (via the menu, or Compass)  the autorudder has a visible gauge, located on the yaw trim handle base plate.
     


    If you are going to deactivate the autorudder during normal flight, first adjust the rudder trim according to the strain gauge, otherwise a very sudden and very unpleasant disconnection will occur. It works very well...  but switched off the AirCruiser has a habit of yawing left, almost going around in circles....
     

     
    You can try to trim it out? but it's hard to find a neutral flight, I did find a position input that worked, slight right rudder and slight stick right as well, but it's tiring for any distance, short or long...  the AutoPilot is not much better, tricky to use is to centre the heading.
     

     
    You adjust via the "Roll" or "Up/Dn" switches, as per the three lights, red (left), white (centre) and green (right). But there is a delay in the operation that can make you over trim, I never quite mastered it...  so again even on the Autopilot, I went into a slight bank in left handed circles and couldn't the aircraft fly in a straight line unless under manual control. It's the sort of tool that all of a sudden you will understand it and get it right, with time and persistence. This system is like the Sperry Type A-3A. You will need to trim the aircraft perfectly, so the heading is as close to where you want to go and level, flying as straight as you can, then turn on the AP, trying to trim later while the Autopilot is active is a far harder situation.
     
    Lighting
    Lighting internally and externally is basic, which is to be expected. There is one switch for the instrument lights, and another switch for the cabin lights, two spider-web looking ones forward and two roof lights rear, it all looks quite nice at night...
     

     
    The GPS install looks bright and also odd in this old cabin, but it's very well done and easy to use.
     

     
    Externally there are only again two light switches...  Navigation, red, green and white tail, the other light is a left wing mounted Landing light, that look and is quite effective. There are no strobes or beacon lights on the aircraft...
     

     
    Flight notes by Hangar 23 notes "DAY - NIGHT* - VFR...  *Poor visibility and the antiquated aircraft lighting scheme will present additional challenges during night flights". In other words it is not really an aircraft to be flown in the dark...
     
    Sounds...  are a bit of a mixed bag. Overall they are excellent, the startup is an aural experience, and so is shutdown, external engine noises are very good right through the range of power outputs, that's the good. The poor is the buzzy interior sounds, that have a sameness of a consistent droning buzz with no fluctuations, even over a short distance I was distracted or even bored with the noise, The Aircruiser maybe really like that in the air, but I didn't really connect with them. The lower power outputs (on the throttle) are however better. Notable is the Aircruiser engine’s 16:11 gear ratio, for the propeller spins slower than the engine, but all readouts and aural sounds are based on the engine and adjustments should be made according to engine state rather than calculated propeller RPM.
     
    Time to head back to Shoreham (EGKA). A tricky place to lineup, for the mass of trees around the field. All the runways are hidden from view...
     

     
    ....   if the system is active on final approach, the autorudder will check if the rudder trim has been appropriately set for the upcoming power reduction. If the trim is not suitably centered, the system will intervene and reset the rudder trim to near center. This may be noted by the clicking of the trim’s chain drive, as well as a mild rolling tendency during finals. Myself I turned the automation off to feel the aircraft on the approach phase, plus a single wind of the rudder trim, to reset it as it was on the takeoff phase. The handling felt normal, as did the approach. If however the autorudder is active, then it will disconnect on landing.
     
    Nose up to rub off the speed, as there is no "white flap use zone", I guessed in setting the flaps to below 100 MPH, actually below 90 MPH, and you get a slight lift on each extension...  but the transition now down to 80MPH with now a slight descent into Shoreham it all felt perfect. The flap lever or floor handle is extremely well done. It's both a brake handle and Flap handle in one.
     

     
    Over the coastline, and there is still no visual on the runways. Then finally the field is in view.... so I drop, in also trying to miss the treeline.
     

     
    ...  but I realise I am too high, and becoming too fast in trying to get down to the grass strip. It's still a very good try....  but I have to abort and climb out!
     

     
    I will note the throttle inputs. If the Aircruiser is trimmed (correctly, or well). The Throttle control is very, very good, as you can control the height via the power. Full power to climb out was excellent (after that slight delay), but I found the Aircruiser to be quite normal in the approach/landing phase as any other heavy single-engined General Aviation aircraft. However you have to be aware of the weight around you with using the throttle power, and that tendency to yaw right with the huge power increase, but you soon adapt to the characteristics and the personality of the aircraft... fun? yes immensely, also a challenge to get the skills right in this cockpit.
     
    I didn't want to lose sight of the field layout, now I had found it. So it was a tight turn around back to the other opposite threshold. But be aware that too tight a bank and the Aircruiser will slip badly and lose height towards the lowered wing, there a sweet spot to find in the bank and before the slip starts to emerge, all this is required to get the best rotation of the aircraft.  
     

     
    Lower and slower this time....  and it feels right.
     

     
    Then slowly descend, descend "keep it steady" and I touch around 65 MPH, I am not to worried about the speed, as the Aircruiser on grass will dramatically drag itself slower. Toe brakes are still the best tool to stop the aircraft rotating hard right, then left on you, as this happens once the tail goes down, it's tricky, but with practise it works in keeping you straight... 
     

     
    I'm down, and arrested before the end of the grass strip...  not bad I say.
     
    Liveries
    There are six liveries, one Blank (default), and two liveries that are blank white, but one has a metal nose cover, and another has the same metal nose cover & metal tanks. All are nostalgic except the off soft purple Landmark?
     

    _____________
    Summary
    Extremely rare aircraft are always interesting, this Bellanca Aircruiser or Airbus, is one of the rarest as only 23 aircraft were built between 1930 -1938, it is also the famed "The Flying W" and this hardy design was still flying in Canada well into the 1970's.
     
    Hangar 23 is a not really a new entrant to the X-Plane Developers affiliation, but a ex-TorqueSim developer. And this unusual rare aircraft is their first project for the newly-named studio and the X-Plane Simulator. The Aircruiser is available as two separate packages for both X-Plane 12 (as shown here) and X-Plane 11.
     
    The quality here with the Hangar 23 Bellanca aircraft is very much on show, as it is highly developed and polished. Modeling is absolutely first rate and the detail is highlighted by this experienced and mature developer. As the aircraft is so rare, the detail in the reproduction is simply outstanding, to the point of recreating an era from a long time ago, and with a couple of modern tools thrown in as well, but not to the distraction of the authenticity of the original aircraft. Obviously this is a project of a labour of love, but still delivered with quality and polish.
     
    It is old fashioned in design, but the Aircruiser comes with so modern helpers like a "Sparrow" 2-Axis Autopilot, a custom AutoRudder feature, and GNS 530 GPS, and the option for Realistic RXP GNS 530 or GNS 750 GPS units. Tail-Wheel control can be via X-Plane style commands or free-castoring, that makes this aircraft easy for first time Tail-Dragger aircraft learning. Other options include Strain Gauges, Steerable Tailwheel, a fully animated Pilot and Clipboard with a Weights & Balance menu.
     
    The Aircruisers unorthodox design does make it a challenge to fly, but I have had far worse and more difficult machines to cope with in the past. The helpers of course help, but once you master that huge powerful force forward, the "Shed" like design is oddly very nice and involving to fly. I dispise Tail-Draggers, but loved the Aircruiser quite a lot, no, a really lot more. The quality performance and well thought out physics, do bring the totally unique experience alive.
     
    It is certainly a huge credit to the skills of the developer of what they have delivered here, certainly it is a very unique Simulation, but totally authentic as well, Secondly the release also shows off X-Plane 12's excellent dynamics and quality lighting. The Aircruiser 66-75 is very rare, but you can absorb yourself in this 1930's Golden Era of Aviation, and this aircraft is highly relatable to the same machine created over 90 Years ago....  Highly Recommended.
    ________________
     

     
    The Aircruiser 66-75 by Hangar 23 is now available from the X-Plane.OrgStore!... Here:
     
    Aircruiser 66-75 Price is US$29.95
     
    Requirements
    X-Plane 12 and X-Plane 11   (2 separate packages) Windows or Mac   (Linux not supported) 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version: 1.0 (January 30th 2024)
    Download Size: 1.2 GB (each version)   Aircraft download is 1.18Gb, and unpacked, then installed in your X-Plane Aircraft folder 1.38Gb. Authorization on startup is required   Documents X-Plane Aircruiser Handbook.pdf The provided manual is excellent, a lot of detail, installation, setup and flying tips...  even Limitations and Operations.
      Designed by Hangar 23
    Support forum for the Aircruiser 66-75 ________________  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 12.09rc5 (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
    - EGKA - Shoreham - Brighton City Airport by NKdesign (X-Plane.orgStore) US$15.00 ________________  
    Review by Stephen Dutton
    11th February 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. Thanks
    Stephen got a reaction from Kiwiflyer in Behind the Screen : January 2024   
    Behind the Screen : January 2024
     
    It's a fresh new year! Like I mentioned going out of 2023, I was going to do a complete clear out of my current X-Plane Application setup. It's a brave decision to be honest. The last month or so of November, and into December, then X-Plane v12.0.09rcWhatever was running famously really well. So do you upset the "apple cart", "ask for trouble" and "can set you back" with loads of more quotes that could cause you problems and issues, and ones you just don't need when you hit the heavy workload of a New Year.
     
    But the problem is that, X-Plane can get very grubby, fill itself up with tons of useless files and even files that fail. I'll explain that one. 
     
    I found, that if a file is written over so many times on your storage, then slight bits of it's data can be lost. This goes back to those platter hard drive disks, in rewitten data being damaged, or the platter itself being worn by overuse. You of course do a defragment run and clean it up. I don't think it matters so much now with SSD drives, being the data is now hardwired. But if drives are saving multiple fragments across the drive, then sometimes bits, (pun intended) do get lost, things that should work, then don't
     
    I do, over the year, usually do a new "vanilla", or clean install of the X-Plane Simulator, but move only large portions of the segments. I just transfer from one install to the next one. Like the main content folders; Global Scenery, Aircraft, Custom Scenery and the current Plugins. But several transfers are the settings, like the X-Plane/output/preferences of "Keys" and "Joystick Settings"...  why, because my keyboard and aircraft preference settings are complex and the layouts are numerous. But the problem is both settings are year on year old, transferred from one installation to the next, even from one computer to another. The data within them is tired, and I noted several times last year that the settings (preferences) were failing, mostly singularly, but still noticeable, in that I had to keep resetting the preferences.
     
    And this is where I get to the nervous bit, I needed to throw these tired old preference files away and do them all fresh from scratch, It sounds simple, but it isn't...  there are a lot of hidden key tools set out in those settings, like swapping from a fixed wing aircraft to a helicopter, refined over the years to perfection. So I was contemplating doing a the full "Vanilla, Vanilla" reinstall.... the absolute clean slate one.
     
    Laminar Research has since added into the "X-Plane Installer" application, an option to "Install a Second Copy of X-Plane", which makes creating a new version easier. The old way was to download the "Demo" version, and add in the Global Scenery to make it a full Simulator version. This new way is not actually much different with a Second Copy, as you still transfer over the Global Scenery and main Aircraft, Custom Scenery and Plugin folders to create the running full version.
     
    But that original X-Plane Application was still very old, running nicely or not. You want to get the process done in a quiet time, as between reviews or content creation, then that is not the best time to start fixing and getting a non-working Simulator. So the down week between Christmas and New Year was the only option to get the rebuild done...  so I pressed the "Install a Second Copy of X-Plane" and started the Download.
     
    The point to make in this article, it is not the main downloads that can cause you the heartache, actually it is the easiest part of the process.
     
    When I install a new X-Plane copy, I then run it, in it's basic form. Yes I transfer over the Global Scenery folder to make it a full Simulator, but I run it from scratch, with only loading in a default aircraft, usually the Cessna 172. First job is to update the New copy to the latest X-Plane version, which can take as long as the copy download...
     
    ...  then test the framerate (usually off the scale) as the graphic settings are also set at their default settings. First things were to set up is my hardware, Joystick, throttle and rudder pedals. In the past I had just transferred the "Joystick Settings" prefs, and it was usually set ready to go. But here I was setting the prefs from a clean set of preferences.
     
    Part of the new installation is to find out if my Throttle hardware is playing up? 2023 was a difficult year with the Saitek X56 Throttle system. First it had a "Ghosting" issue (fixed by using a more powerful USB port), but from the middle of the year, the second throttle lever was not holding it's settings, but switching to the first throttle lever in the left lever, in then setting both throttles together. To separate them you had to pull out the throttle hardware USB plug, and move it into another (live) USB port, and it reset itself back to the separated dual levers. My thoughts were if the worn preferences were the cause of the issue (they weren't).
     
    With the hardware setup, I then reset my Graphic Settings. I always have a screenshot of my most efficient graphic settings, as if I want to experiment, I know how to get back to my best efficient setting layout.
     
    Running the new "vanilla" version is interesting to note the framerate (gains or losses thoughout the year), usually a gain. But it's also "fun", the return to your very first moment you flew the X-Plane Simulator, basic, but a fulfilling flying experience, with no distractions.
     
    Then you start adding in all the external extras, Plugins, Aircraft and then the massive Custom Scenery folder. Run it again...
     
    The trickiest part was after the main install. You have to calibrate all the external factors to the new installation. In fact this was the hardest part, resetting addresses to go to another destination. Navigraph, Charts, Skunkcraft's updater, Traffic Global, ToLiss data. Some were a pain, like Aerosoft (One) which wouldn't recognise the new install, and kept installing in the older one...  the only option was to redownload every single scenery to the new location, time consuming, and in reality it shouldn't have needed to be done, as all the old stored scenery then had to be thrown away.
     
    In the New Year Laminar also did a overhaul of the dsf scenery, it was a big one, but not the full install. But the new install would not accept the partial update, only the full reinstall...  64Gb of it, but I pressed the "Update Scenery Online" and did it in three hours, but when running X-Plane, it noted it still required the new scenery install, so I did it again, with the same result, then I pressed it again and it did the full install again, now nine hours and 192 Gb of the same scenery three times over...  thank god I have an unlimited download limit on my internet account, and unlimited patience...  finally it registered it was installed.
     
    Then came the slow work of authorising all the aircraft in the new install, this adds up to around the 30+ aircraft plus plugins that needed to be reactivated, then the slow work of resetting the FMS Data Manager to new addresses...  and on and on it went, two weeks into the New Year and I was still activating or changing addresses to the new install...  haven't finished yet?
     
    My keyboard settings were all blank, that took a few hours to reinstall all the commands, then my Joystick slider and switch settings, another hour for that one, and the tons of small fixes like my FMS flightplans, Screenshot destinations, WebFMC.....   agggh!
     
    Finally it was all done, a clean sweet install, and all new.
     
    Even now a month after there is still the odd address or aircraft to be reset, it's fix, fix, fix... I love X-Plane, but it is now so horribly complex, on how it all works is a miracle, but it does.
     
    Would I do this sort of extreme reinstall again, I'll be honest and I would think twice before I pressed the download button, but last year's version was burnt out and full of debris, it's what you have to do every few years.
     
    This Behind the Screen Edition is a little late, but reviews don't wait. Over the last weekend there was the announcement from Laminar Research at the Montreal developers conference, is that in the new X-Plane series (v12.1.0), Laminar they are inserting a store directly into the Simulator, a la MSFS. 
     
    The ramifications of this change are quite significant. This will not be just a new added store to the X-Plane Universe, as the current set up is that the .Org (Store and .Org forums) are one planet revolving around the parallel Laminar Research planet of development. In the past Laminar didn't do the commercial side of the Simulator, except for selling a few cups and mugs, but are now moving into the commercial aspect, and one that could seriously upset the natural balance of the past...  we will see how this significant aspect plays out, but my gut says Laminar has underestimated the complexities and the demands of users in running a store. I know, I have seen it first hand for a decade.
     
    There will be no "Behind the Screen" article posted for February 2024. I'm going on a well earned break for two weeks (floating around the Pacific), so the next BtheS edition will be posted on the 1st March 2024. Bon Voyage!
     
    Stephen Dutton
    6th February 2024
    Copyright©2024 X-Plane Reviews
     

  14. Thanks
    Stephen got a reaction from Kiwiflyer in Aircraft Upgraded to X-Plane 12 : Beechcraft Duchess Model 76 by JustFlight Thranda   
    Aircraft Upgraded to X-Plane 12 : Beechcraft Duchess Model 76 by JustFlight Thranda
     
    If you want to fill a void that has been left by Carenado, then the best place to look to is JustFlight, the British based developers. Who work in conjunction with Thranda Design, and ironically also Thranda that used to do the X-Plane development for Carenado. This was in recreating a market for nice and authentic single prop, and twin-engined General Aviation aircraft. Covered by JustFlight/Thranda has been the Archer TX/LX, Archer lll, Warrior ll and the Arrow lll/lV. A few in the Archer TX and Archer lll have already been converted to X-Plane 12, but a lot of the JustFlight stable are only still X-Plane 11.
     
    A Twin-Engined aircraft that was released for X-Plane 11 in April 2019, was the Beechcraft Duchess Model 76. It was a very nice twin, and now here it has been extensively upgraded to X-Plane 12, note this is an upgrade, and earlier purchasers of the Duchess XP11 can get 10% discount off the new Duchess X-Plane 12 aircraft.
     
    The aircraft is developed out of the Beechcraft Musketeer family of single-engined aircraft family line, and at first glance you would be pushed to see any family resemblance, between the model 24 low-wing standard low elevator design to the Series 76 twin-engined high T-Tail configuration,  and an all round far larger aircraft in a 32 ft 9 in (9.98 m) to 38 ft 0 in (11.58 m) wingspan and longer fuselage 25 ft 8 in (7.82 m) to the 76's 29 ft 0 1⁄2 in (8.852 m) overall length. But get down into the parts catalogue and you would be amazed on how many of the same spec are on both aircraft. Its main rival is the Cessna 310 and other references in this category include the PA-30 Twin Comanche and the PA-34 Seneca V.
     

     
    The original Duchess looked really great in X-Plane 11, but the Model 76 now jumps out at you far more with the X-Plane 12 lighting effects, you never get used to it, it has that extremely visible realism factor in the better PBR lighting. Also notable here are that the textures both external and internal are now 8K, and used here to produce a far higher texture clarity, and you notice the difference immediately... vibrantly. Note the newer 8K textures actually use less framerate than the old double 4K textures, in the way they are produced and used here, a Thranda development speciality.
     
    Modeling and detail was also good, but again it is all the more highlighted here (that lighting thing!) the feel is actually Carenado, not Thranda...  as with their other Cessnas and what not, that is not a bad thing, as that was Carenado's major attraction with the worn (if sometimes heavy) feel of their aircraft, or authenticity.
     
    Get in close and you won't at all be disappointed, it's perfection here with the aircraft skin and rivets, love that wing camber at a NACA 632A415 airfoil shape, so smooth and really well done...
     

     
    At this US40+ price your expecting a lot of high end quality, and yes it delivers here in buckets, as the detailing is very professionally and expertly done, as is the excellent glass, thickly tinted and lovely to look at, it all reflects with perfection (you can turn off the reflections, but why would you).
     
    The engine pods are also beautifully modeled, again those smooth curves scream out quality. They house two Lycoming O-360-A1G6D air-cooled flat-four engines, 180 hp(130 kW) each, and right through out the full production run 1978-1983 there was no updated or engine revisions, except for one in house turbo development aircraft.
     

     
    All the undercarriage came directly from the Musketeer spare parts bins, so it is exactly the same trailing link layout and structure, all the craftwork is expertly done in detail and animation, it is a complex gear system but fully realised here, with all the components highly visible.
     

     
    Two cabin doors open, and there is a rear baggage door, really nicely done with both external and internal door latches that work.
     

     
    Internally the layout is the same, but the materials are all very different. The X-Plane 11 Duchess had a very all grey (dull) interior design, here it is a dark blue cloth with slightly darker blue wall and door trimmings, roof is a weave texture mocha brown, with light grey walls...  lovely in style and depth of an older period...   the layout panels are actually very Carenado Bonanza, of which I love...   classy!
     

     
    Instrument Panel
    The instrument panel doesn't have that 'wham bam, thank you mam" factor. that you are expecting... even if at first looking slightly flat, but get in and look at it all more closely, and the detail is extremely very well done. Dials are rusted, dusty and worn out, with plasters even stuck to the panel from past use. Instrument gauges all have faded graphics, and the lighting studs are also well worn and even rusted from use.
     

     
    As noted, if you are Carenado man (or woman), then this is heaven, a trip back into the glory days. Yokes up close are quite authentic and gloriously faded from their 70's heyday, you can hide them individually, and can also use the switch electric trim...
     

     
    Panel layout is in three layers of dials to create a deep feel of instruments...   The Standard Six (SS) flying instruments are front and centre... Airspeed Indicator, Artificial Horizon and the Attitude Indicator are on the top row and the Turn Coordinator, Heading Dial/Course and Vertical Speed Indicators set out directly below. Left of the SS is a clock, backup Attitude Indicator and lower EGT (Exhaust gas temperature) needles. Right of the SS is a twin-needle Manifold pressure and below a twin needle RPM gauges, lower panel centre are two Bendix/King dials ADF (yellow) VOR2 (green) pointers driven by KR 87 ADF/VOR2 and the other is a VOR 2 / ILS indicator driven by KX 165 (NAV 2). Both heading and OBS rear dials/cards are adjustable.
     

     
    Lower panel is a Instrument air (vacuum) gauge and electrical starting and lighting switchgear with the neat gear knob. Top panel left is the label NAV 2 over the clock, very weird?
     
    Twin (engine sets) of six rows of gauges are centre panel, with from top:  Fuel L&R quantity gauges, Fuel pressure gauges, Oil pressure gauges, Oil temperature gauges, Cylinder temperature gauges and Alternator load meters with Alternator-out under/over voltage warning lights inset (are beautifully done). Top of the gauges sits a DME indicator which displays range, ground speed and time to station for NAV 1 or NAV 2 frequencies.
     
    An outside air temperature (digital) matches the manual pressure left window type, and a Hobbs hour meter is far right. The circuit breaker panel is active and can be used and is noted in the twin-bus layout of BUS 1 and BUS 2, it is very good and highly authentic in use. Flap lever and display are below the avionics with 0º - 10º - 20º - DN settings, but the flaps are not section driven, but are continuous in operation and so the degree markers are for display only.
     

     
    There are no instruments for the right seat pilot/passenger with the equipment stack dominating the area. Avionics stack is the usual Bendix/King KMA 28 TSO radio top which is above the GNS430 below (the Reality XP's GTN 750 unit can also be fitted, but this is an addon extra and costs you another $49.95)
    There is a really nice Bendix/King KT 76A transponder unit with a Bendix/King KX 155 COM/NAV 2 radio and Bendix/King KR87 ADF radio receiver bottom.
    Top far right is the Century IV autopilot which is (speaking to the passenger) "can you press the second button the top row, thanks very much" as it is located pretty in being well as far away from the pilot as reachable possible (there is thankfully a pop-up panel), and below is a WX-8 Stormscope.
     
    Twin Throttle levers, Propeller control levers (feathering on both 2-bladed Hartzell 7666A constant speed propellers does work) and Mixture levers are all excellent and well worn and feel nicely authentic to use. Note... unless there is power on, the feathering won't work.
     

     
    Pitch trim is situated between the seats and is well done, but requires help in key settings in a simulation environment (electric trim is available on the yokes), fuel levers are really nice as are the engine vents that can be opened, closed or set half way....  fuel crossfeed is active and the (working) Carb heat is here as well.
     

     
    Note how the passenger seat is offset to the pilot's, a nice authentic touch.
     
    Internal Lighting
    Both internal and external lighting is still quite basic...  panel has only two adjustments for instruments (noted as "Post Lights") and Instrument flood.
     

     
    But you can find that nice night time flying lighting sweetspot. However the worn graphics engine readouts look like early washed out X-Plane 2d panel, and they have no depth, but otherwise the panel looks good. Overhead light (and red torch) selection STILL does NOT work? so that gives you a very unusable dark cabin?
     
    External lighting
    Again very basic, even poor. The main wing and taxi lights are dull, and are missing their usual Thranda sparkle. Navigation lights (Red, Green and rear White) are fine, as are the wing strobes.
     

     
    Menu
    The Menu system is all changed for X-Plane 12. Gone are the side tab and the generally average looking tab menu. Here it is replaced by an iPad style tablet, stuck to the left window...  But you do have options, as the tablet can also be placed on either yoke and windscreen right...
     

     
    You can pop-out the screen as a window as well...
     

     
    ...  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 really square or head on, the yoke position is better, but now also situated lower in your eyesight. It's too far away as well for any detailed inspection and use.
     

     
    But the new layout and art does look far more modern, making it far nicer to use than the old version.
     

     
    The earlier 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 three doors; Pilot, CoPilot and Baggage Door (Open /Close), Window and Instrument Reflections, Cockpit Lights, Ground Equipment, Swap Pilots and Altimeter (IN.HG/MB)
     

     
    Open (close) doors are as seen before...
     

     
    Cockpit lights, just turns full on the Instrument Lighting? but could have been more useful if used for the (missing) cabin light?
     

     
    Ground Equipment is as terrible as the earlier set up. A single option to add in a ground puller on the front wheel, chocks, tie-downs and to hide the pilot, it still does not work? The puller does not work (neither do the tie-downs) if you just want to park the aircraft after a flight. No tags or flags and engine inlet covers are here either, and even a windscreen cover would be nice?
     

     
    Dan Klaue and his wife turn up as your pilots, and basically they are same two animated pilots as in the Thranda Aircraft, by the menu option, you can swap the seat 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 will make Him/Her disappear, but there are no passengers if weight added in the rear, or any bags 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) include two pop-ups for the GNS 430 and the Century IV (autopilot).
     

     
    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.
     
    Static Liveries; You can rotate through all the liveries with the Model 76 via the Static Liveries menu. An option here (new) is that you can adjust the Dirt (dirtiness) between 0-100%.
     

     
    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 27 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 of 27 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 blue) is shown in the square. You can also separately change the aircraft registration number, the Beechcraft 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 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 Beechcraft is in your own nice livery design...  
     
    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), range (available), endurance (time), and FF and used fuel flow, Winds....   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.
     

     
    Missing from the earlier options are the Sound Panel and the Flashlight.
    ____________
    Flying the X-Plane 12 Duchess Model 76
    You have to prime the engines via a button in the middle of the starter switch before turning the starter switch, but it is a bit of a trick on how long to hold the primer button and not to flood the engine, not a lot I believe...  engine starts are excellent. But I found several times the No.2 right engine has a tendency to foul it's plugs far more than the left one, if it does it is tricky to even hell to restart it again.
     

     
    The Model 76 taxi's like an older Carenado as well...  You have to adjust both the Propeller and Mixture right low to get yourself a lower taxi speed, if not, even on idle the taxi rate is too fast. I'm used to this caper by now, but I don't remember the X-Plane 11 version having such a high throttle idle?
     

     
    The Hartzell constant speed propellers are counter-rotating, turning counter clockwise engine left and clockwise engine right, this is to balance the aircraft's thrust and it is very helpful on takeoff, keeping you clean on the centreline. With no set flap degrees you can set the angle that you want, here I go for 5º to create lift, but with as little drag as possible....  the flap display can be hard to see at this distance, harder to see and set on landing.
     
    You do adjust each throttle (slightly) to absorb the different engine performance...  but that felt highly realistic.  Around 95 knts and your climbing out.
     

     
    Climb out is around 1000 fpm (Feet Per Minute) and that is a nice number here, officially the rate of climb limit is 1,248 ft/min (6.34 m/s), so you are using the climb to maximum effect, it doesn't feel like there is any strain on the engines or the aircraft.
     

     
    The memories come flooding back...  this is such a smooth Twin, super-smooth with tons of power. First climb is to 6,000ft, then Trim out... nice to trim and settle the aircraft. The electric Trim won't work unless you turn it on, on the panel behind the Yoke. Then you get the two up/down arrows on the Yoke trimmer button for trim adjustment.
     

     
    Same with the Autopilot, there is another panel switch for power, then another on switch on the Century IV panel...  it's very hard to read (certainly with the bright daylight), so the AP pop-up is the recommended tool to use it most of the time...  ALT will hold your current altitude, but to climb or descend you then press ATT and then set your pitch, you click and don't scroll the buttons to change the aircraft's pitch. The ATT setting can also be used just to hold your current pitch if you like that angle or rate of climb, so the AP is again very easy to use.
     

     
    Now we settle-in for the 2h 30m flight to Portland, if any aircraft is very capable, it is the Duchess.
     

     
    The Beechcraft looks extremely nice in the air, certainly in it's X-Plane 12 guise, realism 101...  checkout ot the underside, fabulously done, remind you of anything? yes those dirty Carenados.
     

     
    Then then also remember to use the EGT needles, the yellow needles represent the best lean to rich mixture for the best fuel flow and hence performance, so you adjust both the throttles and the mixture levers to achieve your golden lean setting....   it works fabulously, and I learn't a lot back in the time on how to "Lean for Speed". Here the mixture levers are really well far back, almost at the engine cut-off point, but the speed is good, and you feel no loss of power.
     

     
    Cruise speed is 158 kn (182 mph; 293 km/h) at the best at 10,000 ft (3,000 m), Range is VOR busting 780 nmi (898 mi; 1,445 km) and the Service Ceiling is a generous 19,650 ft (5,990 m).... I need that height here as well? what is it if you fly North on the West Coast of California, as you always seem to be climbing, I'm finding I'm already up to 9,000ft, but those ridges are still close?
     

     
    It is a nice place to be in is the Duchess, the quality environment is absolutely first rate, a genuine feel.
     

     
    Now descending into Portland, I checkout the Flight Computer numbers, very handy and informative...  good tools are always a help.
     

     
    One thing has been enforced during this newer review of the Model 76, and that this is a nice easy aircraft for learners and it comes with a nice stable platform to practise on, yes the 76 is an easy aircraft to fly, but the pro's will get it as well...  and love it as much as there is also a great built in depth in there, certainly even better now in X-Plane 12.
     
    Sounds are excellent, they should be at this price, but overall and right through the engine ranges, startup and shut down, you will not be disappointed. The sounds cover the full stereo spectrum, 3D audio effects, atmospheric effects, adaptive Doppler, exterior sounds spill, and different sound characteristics depending on viewing angle...   It's a very noisy aircraft as they are first rate and also upgraded to FMOD2.
     
    Set up and went into the approach of Portland Intl Rwy 10R. Tricky into getting right is the Flap setting...  The JustFlight Duchess as noted uses a continuous movement flap selection...  It's hard, because of the angle and distance of the flap dial, worse on this approach as the flat glass on the instrument was washed out, so the setting was a bit of a guess, or feel. Secondly it takes ages to get to the full 30º (DN) setting, extending and retracting, so you think you are there, then look and see it is only half-extended? They are seriously noisy as well, thrumming high noise in the aircraft.
     

     
    With the gear down you can see the excellent lower detail, it's impressive is this JustFlight.
     

     
    90 knts full flap is a nice approach and losing height of around 200 fpm speed. You have to be careful not to get too nose down on the approach, so the right trim setting and throttle position is vital. Pitch adjustments via the throttle is excellent, but also sedate, so you have to anticipate where you want your speed and pitch angle before you get there...  it's a bit of a trick, but it comes to you with the regular flying of the Model 76. Final approach is 80 knts, then you need to get that nose up to flare.
     

     
    The trick (there is always a trick), is to find that throttle sweet spot, so the Duchess has a slow speed landing, but not a lot of loss of lift, the margin is small, but findable, so doable. The timing of the final pitch still however has to be perfect in the flare, to early and the 76 will slightly float...
     

     
    Once all down, it should be at around 73 knts, then you just run out the speed down to the taxi speed, again the right propeller and mixture lever settings are important to get right before you land, to get the transition to taxiing correct. Stall is 60 knts and lethal, you will just fall out of the air because of that high T-Tail effect!
     

     
    Liveries
    There are seven liveries provided (PAINTED LIVERIES) (down from eleven), and two of the liveries are noted as "DynamicLiveryResources" and "ZZTEMPLATELIVERY", these are the currently selected "DYNAMIC LIVERIES".
     

    ___________________
     
    Summary
    A Twin-Engined aircraft was released for X-Plane 11 in April 2019 by JustFlight and Thranda Design, this was the Beechcraft Duchess Model 76. It was a very nice twin, and now here it has been extensively upgraded to X-Plane 12, note this is an upgrade, and earlier purchasers of the Duchess XP11 can get 10% discount off the new Duchess X-Plane 12 aircraft.
     
    Covered also by JustFlight/Thranda has been the Archer TX/LX, Archer lll, Warrior ll and the Arrow lll/lV, but this Duchess 76, is the only big twin-engined aircraft of the series.
     
    The X-Plane 11 version was an excellent aircraft. But this rejuvenated version for X-Plane 12 is far, far better again, but a few quirks still however remain.
     
    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 authenticity and a very high quality.
     
    The aircraft comes alive in X-Plane 12, highly realistic and gives you a very high quality twin 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 (two real aircraft G-BZRT and G-GCCL were used as collation).
     
    But the odd quirks oddly remain? The poor Static Objects are still a one click nothing. No cabin lighting is still another odd omission, and the external taxi/landing lights are non-existent in brightness and feel, 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 27 pages of checks, you can't uncheck in one operation.
     
    When coming back to this JustFlight/Thranda Duchess 76, my thinking was "Why didn't I fly this excellent aircraft more, since the 2019 release as it was so good". In most cases you usually have an easy answer, but not with the Duchess, as it is a very fine aircraft in every area (except for separate chocks and covers). It is also in that high price range of US$40+, and that is fine as the aircraft does deliver exceptional quality, but now even more so in the X-Plane 12 environment.
    It is excellent, a lovely aircraft, that even the most novice pilot can fly and enjoy...  overwhelmingly the main thing about the Duchess 76, is that it brings back into your hangar, something you felt you had lost, Carenado authenticity and feel. So it's like going back ten years but still having all the mod-cons that X-Plane 12 provides as well, a brilliant combination of the very best of both worlds....  Highly Recommended. 
    ___________________
     

     
    Yes! the Beechcraft Duchess Model 76 by JustFlight Thranda is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here :
     
    Beechcraft Duchess Model 76
    On sale: US$42.99
     
    Requirements:
    X-Plane 12  (not for XP11)
    Windows, Mac or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download size: 2.2 MB Current version : 1.0 (January 31st 2024)   Owners of the Duchess XP11 can get 10% the new Duchess XP12.   Installed in your X-Plane Aircraft folder 2.44 Gb. Authorization on startup is required. AviTab Plugin is required for this aircraft   Documents Duchess Model 76 ODM X-Plane manual.pdf Duchess Model 76 X-Plane manual.pdf EULAstandardcommercialandacademic2019.pdf  

     
    Design by JustFlight/Thranda Design
    Support forum: JustFlight Duchess 76 _____________________
    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 12.09rc5 (This is a Release Candidate review).
    Plugins: Traffic Global - JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00
    Scenery or Aircraft
    - KHAF - Half Moon Bay by Rising Dawn Studios (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$19.00
    - KPDX - Portland International Airport 1.5 by Mister X6 (X-Plane.Org) - Free Download
    ___________________________
     
    Review by Stephen Dutton
    4th February 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. Like
    Stephen got a reaction from Kiwiflyer in NEWS! - KDEN Denver is updated to v2.1 by X-Codr Designs   
    NEWS! - KDEN Denver is updated to v2.1 by X-Codr Designs
     

     
    X-PlaneReviews "Best Scenery of the year" 2022 was X-Codr's sublime massive KDEN Denver International Airport. Here early into 2024 is a nice little update v2.1 to fine-tune DEN with a few more new features.
     
    Denver International Airport locally known as DIA, is an international airport in the Western United States, primarily serving metropolitan Denver, Colorado, as well as the greater Front Range Urban Corridor. At 33,531 acres (52.4 sq mi; 135.7 km2), it is the largest airport in the Western Hemisphere by land area and the second largest on Earth, behind King Fahd International Airport. Runway 16R/34L, with a length of 16,000 feet (3.03 mi; 4.88 km), is the longest public use runway in North America and the seventh longest on Earth. The airport is 25 miles (40 km) driving distance northeast of Downtown Denver, 19 miles (31 km) farther than the former Stapleton International Airport, the facility DEN replaced.
     
    In both 2021 and 2022, DEN was the third busiest airport in the world as well as the third busiest airport in the United States by passenger traffic; DEN has been among the top 20 busiest airports in the world every year since 2000.
     
    KDEN v2.1
    First change or new features are that the service vehicles are now branded to the airline, services to Denver Airport (Swissaport). They also have new custom made sounds as well.
     

     
    Entrance elements are also updated.
     

     
    Some gates didn't work correctly with the SAM plugin, but are now fixed...  and a few other fixes and improvements were done around DEN.
     

     
    Notable for the v2.1 update is to also update the X-Codr Library to v1.8, and the Living Scenery Technology to v1.11, besides the KDEN scenery package update v2.1...

     

     

      ✓ High Quality Rendition of KDEN - Denver International Airport       o Detailed, realistic terminals, accurate as of mid-2023.       o Realistic terminal interiors with numerous POIs (such as hanging display aircraft).       o Lively terminal interiors with animated escalators, and thousands of animated sitting, and walking people, whose density varies with time. All of which are visible from the aircraft.       o Windows on buildings with interiors loose opacity at night, mimicking the optics of real glass, for gorgeous night views.       o Realistic, high resolution, hand-crafted textures complete with PBR normal maps and realistic, accurate wear.       o Accurate, highly detailed buildings through the airport, including the new Southwest hangar. ✓ Realistic, natural ground textures       o Tile-free pavement textures with textures detailed down to the pebble       o Realistic normal maps give pavement depth       o Accurate, detailed markings, with realistic reflections       o Hand aligned concrete lines where possible, for natural transitions to newer, brighter pavement areas       o Realistic, hand painted grunge, with unmatched up close detail, that is cohesive with the rest of the scenery. ✓ Lively scenery through use of our Living Scenery Technology plugin for animations, and Stairport Sceneries SAM for jetway systems       o Thousands of walking animated people, with minimal performance impact       o Cars traverse the airport roads realistically, vs spawning in the middle of a road.       o Accurate, realistic speeds for people and cars throughout the airport.       o Animated electronic display boards on Concourse B display local time and temperature.       o AC fan blade speeds vary with the local temperature.       o Realistic, ultra detailed jetways through use of SAM       o All major parking spaces have excellent SAM marshallers to guide you in ✓ Maximum performance       o Every model is meticulously optimized for the best possible performance.       o Localized LODs reduce rendering load by over 80% on average, relative to traditional LODs       o Texture reuse other technical techniques improve VRAM efficiency.       o Shadows are disabled on objects that don’t benefit, for big performance gains. ✓ Full X-Plane 12 support       o Realistic weather effects       o Optimized native aircraft services.       o Use of the excellent native 3d vegetation  
    The v2.1 update is now available from the X-Plane.OrgStore...  the price, for all this, only a brilliant US$29.95
    _______________________________
     

     
    Yes! KDEN - Denver International Airport HD v2.1 by X-Codr Designs is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here :
     
    KDEN - Denver International Airport HD
    Price is US$29.95
     
    Features
    This scenery is a ultra detailed recreation of Denver International Airport. Some of its features include:  Ultra detailed rendition of Denver International Airport Winter and wet rainy versions are included as well Highly detailed custom buildings Most parts of all concourses have detailed custom interiors Detailed yet performance friendly models Normal maps for great bump mapping and glass reflections Ultra detailed ground textures 1 pixel per 6 inch orthophotos equivalent to ZL20 Orthophotos have been cleaned of duplicate flat textures under 3D models (such as traffic and bridges) Extreme detail for pavement, while still maintaining minimal repetition Highly detailed normal maps for impressive specular reflections X-Codr Designs SoundXP Plugin (Windows 10 ONLY) Ambient airport sounds will be played based on your location in the airport - a first in X-Plane Listen to chatter, announcements and other sounds when inside the terminal, trucks rumbling by and beeping when near busy ramp areas, and the drone of traffic speeding by when on the landside of the airport Dynamic living airport Watch heavies, regional commuters and other air traffic bring the airport to life with superb WT3 routes by Brian "Cpt. K-man" Navy (Bird Stryke Designs) Animated jetways using Autogate by Jonathan Harris (marginal) Animated car traffic using Ground Traffic by Jonathan Harris (marginal) Native ground services will service your aircraft upon request Highly detailed custom mesh using Ortho4XP Detailed under and overpasses Sloped runways and taxiways, and ditches  
    Requirements
    X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11
    Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 7.5 GB Current version: 2.1  January 22nd 2024 ____________________  
    NEWS! by Stephen Dutton
    1st February 2024
    Copyright©2024 : X-Plane Reviews
      

     
  16. Like
    Stephen got a reaction from Busair in NEWS! - KDEN Denver is updated to v2.1 by X-Codr Designs   
    NEWS! - KDEN Denver is updated to v2.1 by X-Codr Designs
     

     
    X-PlaneReviews "Best Scenery of the year" 2022 was X-Codr's sublime massive KDEN Denver International Airport. Here early into 2024 is a nice little update v2.1 to fine-tune DEN with a few more new features.
     
    Denver International Airport locally known as DIA, is an international airport in the Western United States, primarily serving metropolitan Denver, Colorado, as well as the greater Front Range Urban Corridor. At 33,531 acres (52.4 sq mi; 135.7 km2), it is the largest airport in the Western Hemisphere by land area and the second largest on Earth, behind King Fahd International Airport. Runway 16R/34L, with a length of 16,000 feet (3.03 mi; 4.88 km), is the longest public use runway in North America and the seventh longest on Earth. The airport is 25 miles (40 km) driving distance northeast of Downtown Denver, 19 miles (31 km) farther than the former Stapleton International Airport, the facility DEN replaced.
     
    In both 2021 and 2022, DEN was the third busiest airport in the world as well as the third busiest airport in the United States by passenger traffic; DEN has been among the top 20 busiest airports in the world every year since 2000.
     
    KDEN v2.1
    First change or new features are that the service vehicles are now branded to the airline, services to Denver Airport (Swissaport). They also have new custom made sounds as well.
     

     
    Entrance elements are also updated.
     

     
    Some gates didn't work correctly with the SAM plugin, but are now fixed...  and a few other fixes and improvements were done around DEN.
     

     
    Notable for the v2.1 update is to also update the X-Codr Library to v1.8, and the Living Scenery Technology to v1.11, besides the KDEN scenery package update v2.1...

     

     

      ✓ High Quality Rendition of KDEN - Denver International Airport       o Detailed, realistic terminals, accurate as of mid-2023.       o Realistic terminal interiors with numerous POIs (such as hanging display aircraft).       o Lively terminal interiors with animated escalators, and thousands of animated sitting, and walking people, whose density varies with time. All of which are visible from the aircraft.       o Windows on buildings with interiors loose opacity at night, mimicking the optics of real glass, for gorgeous night views.       o Realistic, high resolution, hand-crafted textures complete with PBR normal maps and realistic, accurate wear.       o Accurate, highly detailed buildings through the airport, including the new Southwest hangar. ✓ Realistic, natural ground textures       o Tile-free pavement textures with textures detailed down to the pebble       o Realistic normal maps give pavement depth       o Accurate, detailed markings, with realistic reflections       o Hand aligned concrete lines where possible, for natural transitions to newer, brighter pavement areas       o Realistic, hand painted grunge, with unmatched up close detail, that is cohesive with the rest of the scenery. ✓ Lively scenery through use of our Living Scenery Technology plugin for animations, and Stairport Sceneries SAM for jetway systems       o Thousands of walking animated people, with minimal performance impact       o Cars traverse the airport roads realistically, vs spawning in the middle of a road.       o Accurate, realistic speeds for people and cars throughout the airport.       o Animated electronic display boards on Concourse B display local time and temperature.       o AC fan blade speeds vary with the local temperature.       o Realistic, ultra detailed jetways through use of SAM       o All major parking spaces have excellent SAM marshallers to guide you in ✓ Maximum performance       o Every model is meticulously optimized for the best possible performance.       o Localized LODs reduce rendering load by over 80% on average, relative to traditional LODs       o Texture reuse other technical techniques improve VRAM efficiency.       o Shadows are disabled on objects that don’t benefit, for big performance gains. ✓ Full X-Plane 12 support       o Realistic weather effects       o Optimized native aircraft services.       o Use of the excellent native 3d vegetation  
    The v2.1 update is now available from the X-Plane.OrgStore...  the price, for all this, only a brilliant US$29.95
    _______________________________
     

     
    Yes! KDEN - Denver International Airport HD v2.1 by X-Codr Designs is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here :
     
    KDEN - Denver International Airport HD
    Price is US$29.95
     
    Features
    This scenery is a ultra detailed recreation of Denver International Airport. Some of its features include:  Ultra detailed rendition of Denver International Airport Winter and wet rainy versions are included as well Highly detailed custom buildings Most parts of all concourses have detailed custom interiors Detailed yet performance friendly models Normal maps for great bump mapping and glass reflections Ultra detailed ground textures 1 pixel per 6 inch orthophotos equivalent to ZL20 Orthophotos have been cleaned of duplicate flat textures under 3D models (such as traffic and bridges) Extreme detail for pavement, while still maintaining minimal repetition Highly detailed normal maps for impressive specular reflections X-Codr Designs SoundXP Plugin (Windows 10 ONLY) Ambient airport sounds will be played based on your location in the airport - a first in X-Plane Listen to chatter, announcements and other sounds when inside the terminal, trucks rumbling by and beeping when near busy ramp areas, and the drone of traffic speeding by when on the landside of the airport Dynamic living airport Watch heavies, regional commuters and other air traffic bring the airport to life with superb WT3 routes by Brian "Cpt. K-man" Navy (Bird Stryke Designs) Animated jetways using Autogate by Jonathan Harris (marginal) Animated car traffic using Ground Traffic by Jonathan Harris (marginal) Native ground services will service your aircraft upon request Highly detailed custom mesh using Ortho4XP Detailed under and overpasses Sloped runways and taxiways, and ditches  
    Requirements
    X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11
    Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 7.5 GB Current version: 2.1  January 22nd 2024 ____________________  
    NEWS! by Stephen Dutton
    1st February 2024
    Copyright©2024 : X-Plane Reviews
      

     
  17. Like
    Stephen got a reaction from Busair in NEWS! - Classic Aircraft Released : Aircruiser 66-75 by Hangar 23   
    NEWS! - Classic Aircraft Released : Aircruiser 66-75 by Hangar 23
     

     
    You sort of remember it? It is an aircraft that shows up in the odd aviation magazines and early aircraft videos. It's distinctive because of the unusual wing shape, or the aircraft's odd shape per se.
     
    The Bellanca Aircruiser and Airbus were high-wing, single-engine aircraft built by Bellanca Aircraft Corporation of New Castle, Delaware. The aircraft was built as a "workhorse" intended for use as a passenger or cargo aircraft. It was available with wheels, floats or skis. The aircraft was powered by either a Wright Cyclone or Pratt and Whitney Hornet engine. The Airbus and Aircruiser served as both commercial and military transports. he first Bellanca Airbus was built in 1930 as the P-100. An efficient design, it was capable of carrying 12 to 14 passengers depending on the cabin interior configuration, with later versions carrying up to 15. In 1931, test pilot George Haldeman flew the P-100 a distance of 4,400 miles in a time aloft of 35 hours. The full production run was only 23 aircraft, but some "The Flying Ws" were still flying in Canada well into the 1970's
     
    The third Aircuiser 66-75 variant came with a 730 hp (540 kW) Wright Cyclone engine, there was only three built.
     
    Features Custom coded simple autopilot with pitch and roll mode Custom coded optional autorudder Option to disable tailwheel steering Options for XP GNS and RXP GNS/GTN models GNS 530 or GTN 750 Custom clipboard weight and balance interface in both XP11 and XP12 XP12 version syncs with X-Plane’s default menu Save system saves aircraft settings between flights Weight and balance can be saved and loaded High quality 3d modeling High quality PBR materials Optional 2K texture set, including a simple guide, to allow selectively lowering system requirements All 3d objects relevant to creating liveries have been carefully unwrapped and arranged to simplify paint creation 4 preset PBR paint schemes with NRM and ALB textures: Metal Tanks (Default), Metal Nose, Metal Tanks and Nose, Painted Tanks and Nose FMOD sound system VR compatible and tested  

     
     

     

     
    There is a great video of the history of the Aircruiser...
     

     
    Designed by Hangar 23
    Support forum for the Aircruiser 66-75 ________________
     

     
    The Aircruiser 66-75 by Hangar 23 is now available from the X-Plane.OrgStore!... Here:
     
    Aircruiser 66-75 Price is US$29.95
     
    Requirements
    X-Plane 12 and X-Plane 11   (2 separate packages) Windows or Mac   (Linux not supported) 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version: 1.0 (January 30th 2024)
    Download Size: 1.2 GB (each version) ________________   NEWS! by Stephen Dutton
    31st January 2024
    Copyright©2024: X-Plane Reviews
     
    Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Right Reserved.  
     
  18. Like
    Stephen got a reaction from Busair in NEWS! - Aircraft Release : X-Hangar releases de Havilland Canada DHC-5 Buffalo   
    NEWS! - Aircraft Release : X-Hangar releases de Havilland Canada DHC-5 Buffalo
     

     
    A sturdy workhorse is the DHC-5 Buffalo...  The de Havilland Canada DHC-5 Buffalo is a short takeoff and landing (STOL) utility transport turboprop aircraft developed from the earlier piston-powered DHC-4 Caribou. The aircraft has extraordinary STOL performance and is able to take off in distances much shorter than even most light aircraft can manage.
     
    The Buffalo arose from a 1962 United States Army requirement for a STOL transport capable of carrying the same payload as the CH-47A Chinook helicopter. De Havilland Canada based its design to meet the requirement on an enlarged version of its DHC-4 Caribou, already in large-scale service with the United States Army, to be powered by General Electric T64 turboprops rather than the Pratt & Whitney R-2000 piston engines of the Caribou. De Havilland's design, the DHC-5 Buffalo, was chosen as the winner of the United States Army competition in early 1963, with four DHC-5s, designated YAC-2 (later CV-7A and subsequently C-8A) ordered. The first of these aircraft made its maiden flight on 9 April 1964, and all four aircraft were delivered in 1965.
     
    This is an X-Plane 12 aircraft release for X-Hangar, but an X-Plane 11 version is part of the package...  there are a LOT of features.
     
    X-Plane Features: 3D cockpit VR cockpit Rain and wipers Opening windows Opening doors Opening ramp Yoke hide with keyboard key or press of a button on the panel Steerable yoke in both 3d and VR Pilot figures Passenger figures Static models Chocks and remove before flight flags Menu to hide co-pilot and other options 2 different loads: Passenger or Cargo Cargo or passenger load displays according to load (more with more weight and less with less weight) Many international liveries Layers for painting your own livery Garmin 540 GPS with pop out or press buttons Autopilot Century 41 Checklist in .txt format to use in the Sim User manual in .pdf format to help fly in X-Plane FSE file included to fly Flight Sim Economy  

     

     

     
    Performance
    Cruise speed: 227 kn (261 mph, 420 km/h) maximum at 10,000 ft (3,000 m) Stall speed: 73 kn (84 mph, 135 km/h) 40 degree flaps at 46,900 lb (21,273 kg) Range: 600 nmi (690 mi, 1,100 km) at 10,000 ft (3,048 m) with maximum payload Ferry range: 1,770 nmi (2,040 mi, 3,280 km) zero payload Service ceiling: 31,000 ft (9,400 m) g limits: 2.5g (manoeuvring limit load) Rate of climb: 1,820 ft/min (9.2 m/s) Take-off run: 2,300 ft (701 m) Take-off distance to 50 ft (15 m): 2,750 ft (838 m) (mid cg range) Landing run: 850 ft (259 m) Landing distance from 50 ft (15 m): 2,010 ft (613 m)  
    New X-Hangar support forum
    Images are courtesy of X-Hangar
    ________________
     

     
    Yes! the de Havilland Canada DHC-5 Buffalo by X-Hangar is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : 
     
    de Havilland Canada DHC-5 Buffalo
    Price is US$24.95
     
    X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11
    Windows, Mac or Linux 8 GB VRAM Minimum Download Size: 311 Mb Current version: 1.0 (January 28th 2024) ________________
      News by Stephen Dutton
    30th January 2024
    Copyright©2024: X-Plane Reviews
     
    Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Right Reserved.  
     
  19. Like
    Stephen got a reaction from Busair in Aircraft Review : Leonardo Aermacchi M-346 AJT by Deltawing Simulations   
    Aircraft Review : Leonardo Aermacchi M-346 AJT by Deltawing Simulations
     
    This is the excellent Leonardo Aermacchi M-346 AJT "Advanced Jet Trainer". The Aermacchi M-346 Master is a family of military twin-engine transonic advanced jet trainers and light combat aircraft. Originally co-developed with Yakovlev as the Yak/AEM-130, the partnership was dissolved in 2000 and then Alenia Aermacchi proceeded to separately develop the M-346 Master, while Yakolev continued work on the Yakovlev Yak-130. The first flight of the M-346 was performed in 2004. The type is currently operated by the air forces of Italy, Israel, Singapore, Greece, Turkmenistan and Poland. Since 2016 the manufacturer became Leonardo-Finmeccanica as Alenia Aermacchi merged into the new Finmeccanica, then finally rebranded as Leonardo in 2017.
     
    As the X-Plane 12 Simulator now has 18 months of maturity behind it, then users are now getting aircraft releases of only dedicated X-Plane 12 aircraft, in other words only true X-Plane 12 designed and higher quality releases. This M-346 is from Deltawing Simulations, a very well known and quality based developer, also known for their excellent F16C Fighting Falcon series of aircraft. Another thing notable is that this M-345 is an official Product and licensed by Leonardo.
     
    First impression is the Aermacchi just jumps right out at you, the quality is really very overwhelming, very X-Plane 12 and highly, highly realistic...
     

     
    I love an aircraft that just leaps out at you, your gut says, "This is going to be good", and the experience awaits.
     
    The M-346 is designed for the main role of a lead-in fighter trainer, in which aircraft's performance and capabilities are used to deliver pilot training for the latest generation of combat fighter aircraft. Powered by a pair of Honeywell/ITEC F124-GA-200 turbofan engines of 28 kN (6,300 lbf) thrust each, and designed to reduce acquisition and operating costs, the M-246 is capable of transonic flight without using an afterburner .
     

     
    Modeling is absolutely first rate...  you will get no complaints from me in this area. Inlet and exhaust outlets are brilliantly conceived, all the diverse panels and riveting are excellent, the detail here does not reflect the sub-$40 price, but for a quality delivered from a far higher 25% price-point...
     

     
    Highlight is the superb twin-canopy, brilliant tinted glass shows a hugely complex cockpit, with two very highly realistic animated pilots, and even their mask air-tubes move with the movements...  incredibly well done and like mentioned, highly realistic
     

     
    Another highlight is the gear....  First two front doors open, then the gear uncoils out of the underbody of the fuselage...
     

     
    The gear twists and turns it's way down, the animation detail is brilliant by Deltawing...  highly realistic, I love watching the theatrics of it all. When all finally down and locked the gear detail from the struts, links, arms and the hydraulics is focus study stuff, in being just perfect and original to the design.
     

     
    Menu
    There is a banner menu "Aermacchi M-346" that has four options; Refuel Probe Toggle, Remove Before Flight Toggle, Ladder Toggle, Choks (sic) Toggle and OPTIONS
     

     
    Static elements are very good.
     

     
    The M346 is hung like a Christmas Tree with tags and flags, you also have engine inlet and exhaust covers. Highlight is the Ladder, beautifully detailed, it allows both pilots to insert or extract themselves from the Jet. There is a lovely fuel probe and an earthing cable and clamp....   and also rear wheel chocks. Set to the side is an emergency fire extinguisher.
     

     
    A nice touch is that both pilots can be inserted or removed individually from the cockpit via the OPTIONS menu.
     

     
    You can flip the pilot's visors by using Shift + F2 (front), and SHIFT + F3 (rear), but I found the F3 didn't work?
     

     
    Cockpit
    The Aermacchi is a twin-seat trainer, but being modern, the layout between the front and the rear are both mirrored in controls and instrumentation. The first look detail is excellent. It's tight in here as the boundaries don't give you much flex room, slightly forward and up are your only movement directions.
     

     
    It is a complex cockpit, but you soon navigate around the instruments, switches and dials if you are familiar with military aircraft. The instrument panel is dominated by the UFCP (Up Front Control Panel) top central and three MFDs (Multi-Function Display) lower, all laid out with universal menus.
     

     
    All four units pop-out via a pointer-circle...  In the banner menu there is also the option to "Pop Out The Pop Outs" or switching them to full window menus.
     

     
    Left console covers; APU (Auxiliary Power Unit), yes it is built in! RENG (Engines), TCT, FGS, TRIM and PWR (Power) sections.
     

     
    Right console covers PWR (Radio), ICS, ECS (Environment), IFF (Identify Friend or Foe), INTR LT (Internal Lighting), EXT LT (External Lighting), MASS...  rear is the RADIO (right and MAINT. ENG DRY left.
     

     
    Behind the HOTAS stick, is the HOTAS  and FCS (flight control system) panel. The highlight of the cockpit is left, these are the lovely Twin-Throttles, again worth a close investigation.
     

     
    Also notable is the Ejection Seat "Safety Catch" SAFE or ARMED. There is a full selection and activation settings for the ejector seat, and very authentic to the real seat operations.
     

     

     
    The UFCP has input selection keys and data selections, with 8 Function keys, 35 data entry options all done on a 4 line dot-matrix display unit. Data selection cover IFF (Identify Friend or Foe), COMM (Communications), FPL (Flightplan), SP (Steering Point or waypoints), Data Page (Fuel, Height, Laser, Altitude), BARO, AP (Autopilot)/ FD (Flight Director), TACAN, VOR/ILS, CLOCK...  it's complicated, but all the selections are noted in the manual, but sadly there are no descriptions of the tools or how to use them, so a bit of study and pushing buttons is required to master the unit, but clever and authentic the UFCP is. Here are a few of the displays available...
     

     
    The three MFDs (Multi-Function Display), are interchangeable, or you can display the same page on either MFD. Selection is via the MENU button top, the Menu selections disappears again with non-selection.
     

     
    Again there are a lot of menu choices (most currently are INOP), but active are FCS (Status), COMMS 1, COMM 2, IN/GPS, CAD 1 (Including AP/FD and ROLL), HSI (Horizontal Situation Display) with "NAV Source", MAP/ TSD and SYSTEMS, there also menus within menus like SYS and FUEL pages. Again the Manual could be more descriptive of these systems and have labels in explaining what they are and how they work, so your work wil be a bit hit and miss in making notes on how to navigate the screen pages. I feel more MFD options will come later from Deltawing, the idea is to do the basics of the MFD first, then do the deeper detail in coming updates.
     

     
    The HUD (Head Up Display) or noted here as the "PDU" or Pilot Display Unit, but I will still note it as the HUD. This one is a very comprehensive HUD, quite different in it's layout arrangement, but very well done and the main feature of the cockpit, we will focus on this HUD in flight.
    Lower set on the glareshield are the ATL (Altitude) SEL, BARO, CRS (Course) SEL, and HDG (Heading) SEL knobs, and the Caution Warning Panel (CWP) Annunciators. Lower is a (pop-out) backup (here noted as a GHD or "Get Home Display") ISIS or Integrated Standby Instrument System.
     

     
    If you press the lower center of the HUD assembly, it will move you to the rear seat, and vise-versa. Control wise the rear station is exactly the same as the front, most of the same instruments are present back here as well, the only difference are the side panels, that have a lot of the switch panels missing.
     

     
    Lighting
    There are three knobs for adjusting the internal lighting. CONSOLE and INST (Instrument) does the main honours, and it looks gorgeous. A third knob FLOOD will give you cockpit lighting via four spot-lights...  overall totally excellent, but I couldn't find the HUD brightness adjustment.
     

     
    External lighting has flashing white beacons top, lower and tail, inner Navigation lights, and a single taxi light on the front gear strut, and landing lights on each of the rear gear legs...
     

     
    A highlight are the adjustable "Formation" or Slime lights...   nose, rudder, rear fuselage, and on the tips of the wings.
     

     
    Flying the M-346
    Pooowwwer, what is it about with these trainers that have so MUCH thrust...    the Aermacchi is certainly not lacking in this area with those huge Turbofans with 28 kN (6,300 lbf) of some heavy thrust capacity...  enough to give you a climb-rate of 112 m/s (22,000 ft/min), then a Mach 0.95 Maximum speed or 1,090 km/h (680 mph, 590 kn) in the old school. You feel it, through your back and in the controls.
     

     
    The other thing with trainers is balance...  they are extremely easy to trim and to find that sweet spot, you know the point where you can take your hands off the stick and feet off the rudders and the aircraft will just stay there, powering along at a god fast awful speed, it exhilarating!
     

     
    The M-346 is an absolute gem of a handling aircraft, you get precision here, but also that relaxed control feel in the way the aircraft turns and reacts to your inputs. It doesn't feel like a trainer, but more like an efficient attack aircraft.
     
    In the advanced jet trainer role, the original M-346 model is unarmed; however, in November 2015, it was reported that Alenia Aermacchi was close to finalising a combat-capable dual-role variant of the aircraft. During late 2017, a series of armed tests involving the AIM-9L missiles took place. In 2015, an armed variant, designated as the M-346 LCA (Light Combat Aircraft), was offered to Poland; this reportedly included a capability of operating the Brimstone air-to-ground missile. The armed variant is still under development, designated M-346FA. The first pre-series aircraft has however flown from Venegono airfield in July 2020.
     

     
    You are at one with the aircraft, not only in the front seat, but also if you prefer the rear. Realism is provided by the moving front pilot's helmet, it is SO realistic in here.
     

     
    One of the highlights is the comprehensive HUD or PDU. There are 16 display readouts...
     

     
    ....  although most HUD's are identical, the layout of the data is different here, so you will need to study the visual references before going flying, it's brilliant but confusing if you don't know what is what...  the basics are shown here.
     

     
    You have to keep it centred in the scope as well, move your POV and you lose a section of the HUD data. Once I had worked it all out, I loved the display, but will note that at certain angle to the bright sky, it can wash out the lower details, so you have to squint closer for the data, this can make tough with reading on approaches. You can't hide or lower the HUD either, so it is always on.
     

     
    No doubt is if you have VR (Virtual Reality) headset, it would be realistically amazing in here, the Deltawing M-346 fully supports the VR environment, its great on a monitor in 2d, but in 3d 360º would be absolutely excellent.
     
    The CAD page gives you the standard flying instrument display on the MFD. It has the standard Artificial Horizon and speed and altitude tapes, but there is an option when in the AP mode for the AP details to be also shown on the CAD, and very good it is, sometimes easier to read than the HUD whiteout.
     

     
    My only gripe is that using the V/S Speed and Altitude capture is very hit and miss, sometimes it works, but in most cases refuses to capture your selected altitude, either more refinement is required, or more information on in how it works needs to be forthcoming from Deltawing.
     
    Range is 1,925 km (1,196 mi, 1,039 nmi), with an endurance  of 2 hours 45 minutes (4 hours with external drop tanks). Ceiling like most trainers is a very high 13,716 m (45,000 ft) to replicate fighter limits, same with the g limits of +8 -3.
     
    Sounds, brilliant of course, FMOD 2 in design, they totally reflect the tone and power of the F124-GA-200, its behind you as you accelerate, but aurally around you as you twist the Aermacchi around in the air, so yes it comes with 360º doppler movement...  other smaller, switch, gear extension/retraction and alert sounds are all perfect, its a very sonic environment...    just listen to the air-pressure opening and closing of the canopy.
     
    A feature of the Aermacchi M-346 is the PARS system which is a "Pilot Activated Recovery System"...  the idea is to recover the aircraft to a safe flight situation, say if a student panicked, or a loss of conscious (blackout)...  there is a button on the console behind the stick that activates the system...
     

     
    So I drop the M-346 into a death roll and fall...
     

     
    ...    so I pushed the stick more forward... more nose down and now past the point of recovery...
     

     
    ...  then you hit the PARS button, and lo & behold the Aermacchi, just quickly and simply recovered itself to a nice safe level flying position!
     

     
    So the system is very realistic.
     
    Fuel system is very good. You have 2x Internal Tanks and 2x Wing Tanks...  plus 2x Pylon Tanks for a total of 4075 Lts, or 8965 Lbs of fuel
     

     
    Hit the "EMERG JETT" or "Do NOT Touch" button and the pylon tanks drop away...
     
    In one area of the flight envelope, it is the landing that needs skill. This is a powerful, but also slippery aircraft... So first it is at first hard to slow down, certainly if you fly very high and lose altitude quickly, rubbing off the speed is tricky, difficult. You do have a very effective airbrake above your heads to the rear, and it makes a difference. It has two stages of deployment.
     

     
    The default official stall speed is 95 knts, but you would never go that low before falling out of the sky, it feels more like 130 knts, several approaches at the Full (LDG) flap setting, I was already sinking at around 135 knts, so the best approach speed is 140 knts.
     

     
    Slipping to 129 knts I had a nice slope down into the runway, but you feel you are on the edge of lift, worse you feel that your approaching the runway far too fast, it just comes at you at a "hell" of a speed, fast...  but how can you go slower?
     

     
    Touch is around 120 knts, but it feels still to fast...  this is actually my second approach and landing, the first, then I had literally fell out of the sky with the loss of lift, this time around was better, not perfect but better...  so you can see it needs practise to get a landing right at the feeling of the high speed.
     

     
    Once down you feel you are now sprinting down the runway... fast, so be careful on the brakes. To help, once the rear gear hits the tarmac, the both aileron surfaces popup to act as airbrakes, its very well done.
     

     
    So the M-346 is tricky to get right in the lower speed zone, the same in the air as the throttle adjustments have to be absolutely perfect to get the right speeds to keep you aloft, you do however get the right feel the more you spend time in the aircraft. Power on in most phases of the flight, and you simply don't think about it at all, but it is certainly one aircraft to learn and absorb at those slower speeds.
     
    I have sort of mentioned it above. the Manual is very good, it is 85 pages including a rough checklist. But there is the issue in that the manual is all images, so you can't search or find certain topics, so the only way to find the information is to constantly scroll through the manual, and look at every area, with it's complex acronyms makes it hard to find, and worse most are not labeled on their action. Notes are few and far between, so with aircraft of this Menu driven complexity, then a tutorial is required. Skunkcraft Updater is also available here.
     
    Liveries
    There are eleven liveries with the Aermacchi. Three are Leonardo Factory liveries, and six are the current Air Force operators, altogether they are all excellent in design and 4K quality. Deltawing is the default developer livery, but also the best of the set.
     

    _____________
    Summary
    The Aermacchi M-346 Master is a family of military twin-engine transonic advanced jet trainers and light combat aircraft. It is a twin-seater modern powerful trainer that has been a recent success in being active currently in six Armed Forces.
     
    Deltawing Simulations, a very well known and quality based X-Plane developer, is also known for their excellent F16C Fighting Falcon series of aircraft. And here is another brilliant Simulation from this evergreen master.
     
    Modeling is simply X-Plane 12 wow factor. The aircraft stands out in the simulator for total realism and immersion, both externally and internally. Military systems are first rate including a quality HUD (Head Up Display), UFCP (Up Front Control Panel) top central and three MFDs (Multi-Function Display), that are interchangeable. System depth is already excellent, but expect more pages to follow in updates, its all complex to use, but authentic. This is trainer, so not armed (unless you count dropping the external fuel tanks), but a M-346FA Fighter variant might come in the future. All animations, certainly the complex gear movements are also a highlight. The clever PARS system "Pilot Activated Recovery System" is also very well replicated here.
     
    Banner menu covers; Refuel Probe, Before Flight , Ladder, Choks (sic) and pilot OPTIONS in show/hide pilot and opening of the helmet visors are all great well done features...  Static elements here are very good, and the aircraft has it's own built in APU. Lighting is excellent inside and out, and features "Formation" lights or Slime. Sounds are also top notch, with 360º FMOD 2 quality and aural cockpit sounds.
     
    Gripes are extremely small, more or better documentation... better still a tutorial on theses complex aircraft are required, they are acronym hell, and the details need to be explained.
     
    You are starting to expect or are referencing a higher quality and feel factor in these X-Plane 12 only created simulations, these are projects done under the X-Plane 12 environment and are not transitioned from earlier versions of X-Plane. It is highly noticeable in every aspect of these modern creations. But in being also value priced at under US$40, you are getting here the total best of both worlds, higher quality and systems, for a very credible price. The Deltawing Aermacchi M-346 certainly delivers massively in both or all areas. It's nice to fly and balance as well... but the thing that comes across more than anything in the Aermacchi is the higher realism...  with projects like these, the real world gap to simulation is closing in even more....   Highly Recommended!
    ___________________
     

     
    Yes! the Leonardo Aermacchi M-346 AJT by Deltawing Simulations is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here :
     
    Leonardo Aermacchi M-346 AJT
    On sale: US$39.95
     
    Main Features:
    Highly detailed 3d exterior model Highly detailed 3d cockpit model Highly detailed landing gear system Highly detailed pilot figures Dual cockpit Custom remove before flight objects Custom particles system Realistic FMOD custom sounds 4K textures Realistic startup sequence Custom cockpit lights Custom external lights Custom external fuel tanks (droppable) Fully custom electronics system Fully custom environmental system Fully custom autopilot Fully custom Fly-By-Wire system 3 individual fully custom MFD displays, as close to the original as possible Supports Skunkcraft updater 11free 4K highly detailed liveries included Supports VR Requirements:
    X-Plane 12 (not for XP11)
    Windows, Mac (M1 and M2 are supported) or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 742 MB
    Current version: 1.0.0_0r3 (January 26th 2024)   Note: In order to use and enjoy VR environment in X-Plane, user hardware and system specs should meet the required specifications for OS, CPU, GPU, MB and RAM which are specified both in the given VR hardware websites and at X-Plane.com.   Aircraft download is 741 Mb, and unpacked then installed in your X-Plane  Aircraft folder 2.36 Gb. Authorization on startup is required   Documents DWSim M-346AJT Manual
     
    Design by DeltaWing Simulations
    Support forum: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/forums/forum/753-aermacchi-m-346-advanced-jet-trainer/
    https://deltawingsim.com/ _____________________
    Review System Specifications: 
    Windows  - 12th Gen IS1700 Core i7 12700K 12 Core 3.60 GHz CPU - 64bit -32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - PNY GeForce RTX 3080 10GB XLR8 - Samsung 970 EVO+ 2TB SSD
    Software:   - Windows 11 Pro - X-Plane 12.09rc3 (This is a Release Candidate review).
    Plugins: Traffic Global - JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00
    Scenery or Aircraft
    - LICC - Catania-Fontanarossa Airport 2.1 by FlyDave  (X-Plane.Org) - Free
    ___________________________
     
    Review by Stephen Dutton
    29th January 2024
    Copyright©2024: X-Plane Reviews
     
    (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
     

  20. Thanks
    Stephen got a reaction from Kiwiflyer in Aircraft Review : Leonardo Aermacchi M-346 AJT by Deltawing Simulations   
    Aircraft Review : Leonardo Aermacchi M-346 AJT by Deltawing Simulations
     
    This is the excellent Leonardo Aermacchi M-346 AJT "Advanced Jet Trainer". The Aermacchi M-346 Master is a family of military twin-engine transonic advanced jet trainers and light combat aircraft. Originally co-developed with Yakovlev as the Yak/AEM-130, the partnership was dissolved in 2000 and then Alenia Aermacchi proceeded to separately develop the M-346 Master, while Yakolev continued work on the Yakovlev Yak-130. The first flight of the M-346 was performed in 2004. The type is currently operated by the air forces of Italy, Israel, Singapore, Greece, Turkmenistan and Poland. Since 2016 the manufacturer became Leonardo-Finmeccanica as Alenia Aermacchi merged into the new Finmeccanica, then finally rebranded as Leonardo in 2017.
     
    As the X-Plane 12 Simulator now has 18 months of maturity behind it, then users are now getting aircraft releases of only dedicated X-Plane 12 aircraft, in other words only true X-Plane 12 designed and higher quality releases. This M-346 is from Deltawing Simulations, a very well known and quality based developer, also known for their excellent F16C Fighting Falcon series of aircraft. Another thing notable is that this M-345 is an official Product and licensed by Leonardo.
     
    First impression is the Aermacchi just jumps right out at you, the quality is really very overwhelming, very X-Plane 12 and highly, highly realistic...
     

     
    I love an aircraft that just leaps out at you, your gut says, "This is going to be good", and the experience awaits.
     
    The M-346 is designed for the main role of a lead-in fighter trainer, in which aircraft's performance and capabilities are used to deliver pilot training for the latest generation of combat fighter aircraft. Powered by a pair of Honeywell/ITEC F124-GA-200 turbofan engines of 28 kN (6,300 lbf) thrust each, and designed to reduce acquisition and operating costs, the M-246 is capable of transonic flight without using an afterburner .
     

     
    Modeling is absolutely first rate...  you will get no complaints from me in this area. Inlet and exhaust outlets are brilliantly conceived, all the diverse panels and riveting are excellent, the detail here does not reflect the sub-$40 price, but for a quality delivered from a far higher 25% price-point...
     

     
    Highlight is the superb twin-canopy, brilliant tinted glass shows a hugely complex cockpit, with two very highly realistic animated pilots, and even their mask air-tubes move with the movements...  incredibly well done and like mentioned, highly realistic
     

     
    Another highlight is the gear....  First two front doors open, then the gear uncoils out of the underbody of the fuselage...
     

     
    The gear twists and turns it's way down, the animation detail is brilliant by Deltawing...  highly realistic, I love watching the theatrics of it all. When all finally down and locked the gear detail from the struts, links, arms and the hydraulics is focus study stuff, in being just perfect and original to the design.
     

     
    Menu
    There is a banner menu "Aermacchi M-346" that has four options; Refuel Probe Toggle, Remove Before Flight Toggle, Ladder Toggle, Choks (sic) Toggle and OPTIONS
     

     
    Static elements are very good.
     

     
    The M346 is hung like a Christmas Tree with tags and flags, you also have engine inlet and exhaust covers. Highlight is the Ladder, beautifully detailed, it allows both pilots to insert or extract themselves from the Jet. There is a lovely fuel probe and an earthing cable and clamp....   and also rear wheel chocks. Set to the side is an emergency fire extinguisher.
     

     
    A nice touch is that both pilots can be inserted or removed individually from the cockpit via the OPTIONS menu.
     

     
    You can flip the pilot's visors by using Shift + F2 (front), and SHIFT + F3 (rear), but I found the F3 didn't work?
     

     
    Cockpit
    The Aermacchi is a twin-seat trainer, but being modern, the layout between the front and the rear are both mirrored in controls and instrumentation. The first look detail is excellent. It's tight in here as the boundaries don't give you much flex room, slightly forward and up are your only movement directions.
     

     
    It is a complex cockpit, but you soon navigate around the instruments, switches and dials if you are familiar with military aircraft. The instrument panel is dominated by the UFCP (Up Front Control Panel) top central and three MFDs (Multi-Function Display) lower, all laid out with universal menus.
     

     
    All four units pop-out via a pointer-circle...  In the banner menu there is also the option to "Pop Out The Pop Outs" or switching them to full window menus.
     

     
    Left console covers; APU (Auxiliary Power Unit), yes it is built in! RENG (Engines), TCT, FGS, TRIM and PWR (Power) sections.
     

     
    Right console covers PWR (Radio), ICS, ECS (Environment), IFF (Identify Friend or Foe), INTR LT (Internal Lighting), EXT LT (External Lighting), MASS...  rear is the RADIO (right and MAINT. ENG DRY left.
     

     
    Behind the HOTAS stick, is the HOTAS  and FCS (flight control system) panel. The highlight of the cockpit is left, these are the lovely Twin-Throttles, again worth a close investigation.
     

     
    Also notable is the Ejection Seat "Safety Catch" SAFE or ARMED. There is a full selection and activation settings for the ejector seat, and very authentic to the real seat operations.
     

     

     
    The UFCP has input selection keys and data selections, with 8 Function keys, 35 data entry options all done on a 4 line dot-matrix display unit. Data selection cover IFF (Identify Friend or Foe), COMM (Communications), FPL (Flightplan), SP (Steering Point or waypoints), Data Page (Fuel, Height, Laser, Altitude), BARO, AP (Autopilot)/ FD (Flight Director), TACAN, VOR/ILS, CLOCK...  it's complicated, but all the selections are noted in the manual, but sadly there are no descriptions of the tools or how to use them, so a bit of study and pushing buttons is required to master the unit, but clever and authentic the UFCP is. Here are a few of the displays available...
     

     
    The three MFDs (Multi-Function Display), are interchangeable, or you can display the same page on either MFD. Selection is via the MENU button top, the Menu selections disappears again with non-selection.
     

     
    Again there are a lot of menu choices (most currently are INOP), but active are FCS (Status), COMMS 1, COMM 2, IN/GPS, CAD 1 (Including AP/FD and ROLL), HSI (Horizontal Situation Display) with "NAV Source", MAP/ TSD and SYSTEMS, there also menus within menus like SYS and FUEL pages. Again the Manual could be more descriptive of these systems and have labels in explaining what they are and how they work, so your work wil be a bit hit and miss in making notes on how to navigate the screen pages. I feel more MFD options will come later from Deltawing, the idea is to do the basics of the MFD first, then do the deeper detail in coming updates.
     

     
    The HUD (Head Up Display) or noted here as the "PDU" or Pilot Display Unit, but I will still note it as the HUD. This one is a very comprehensive HUD, quite different in it's layout arrangement, but very well done and the main feature of the cockpit, we will focus on this HUD in flight.
    Lower set on the glareshield are the ATL (Altitude) SEL, BARO, CRS (Course) SEL, and HDG (Heading) SEL knobs, and the Caution Warning Panel (CWP) Annunciators. Lower is a (pop-out) backup (here noted as a GHD or "Get Home Display") ISIS or Integrated Standby Instrument System.
     

     
    If you press the lower center of the HUD assembly, it will move you to the rear seat, and vise-versa. Control wise the rear station is exactly the same as the front, most of the same instruments are present back here as well, the only difference are the side panels, that have a lot of the switch panels missing.
     

     
    Lighting
    There are three knobs for adjusting the internal lighting. CONSOLE and INST (Instrument) does the main honours, and it looks gorgeous. A third knob FLOOD will give you cockpit lighting via four spot-lights...  overall totally excellent, but I couldn't find the HUD brightness adjustment.
     

     
    External lighting has flashing white beacons top, lower and tail, inner Navigation lights, and a single taxi light on the front gear strut, and landing lights on each of the rear gear legs...
     

     
    A highlight are the adjustable "Formation" or Slime lights...   nose, rudder, rear fuselage, and on the tips of the wings.
     

     
    Flying the M-346
    Pooowwwer, what is it about with these trainers that have so MUCH thrust...    the Aermacchi is certainly not lacking in this area with those huge Turbofans with 28 kN (6,300 lbf) of some heavy thrust capacity...  enough to give you a climb-rate of 112 m/s (22,000 ft/min), then a Mach 0.95 Maximum speed or 1,090 km/h (680 mph, 590 kn) in the old school. You feel it, through your back and in the controls.
     

     
    The other thing with trainers is balance...  they are extremely easy to trim and to find that sweet spot, you know the point where you can take your hands off the stick and feet off the rudders and the aircraft will just stay there, powering along at a god fast awful speed, it exhilarating!
     

     
    The M-346 is an absolute gem of a handling aircraft, you get precision here, but also that relaxed control feel in the way the aircraft turns and reacts to your inputs. It doesn't feel like a trainer, but more like an efficient attack aircraft.
     
    In the advanced jet trainer role, the original M-346 model is unarmed; however, in November 2015, it was reported that Alenia Aermacchi was close to finalising a combat-capable dual-role variant of the aircraft. During late 2017, a series of armed tests involving the AIM-9L missiles took place. In 2015, an armed variant, designated as the M-346 LCA (Light Combat Aircraft), was offered to Poland; this reportedly included a capability of operating the Brimstone air-to-ground missile. The armed variant is still under development, designated M-346FA. The first pre-series aircraft has however flown from Venegono airfield in July 2020.
     

     
    You are at one with the aircraft, not only in the front seat, but also if you prefer the rear. Realism is provided by the moving front pilot's helmet, it is SO realistic in here.
     

     
    One of the highlights is the comprehensive HUD or PDU. There are 16 display readouts...
     

     
    ....  although most HUD's are identical, the layout of the data is different here, so you will need to study the visual references before going flying, it's brilliant but confusing if you don't know what is what...  the basics are shown here.
     

     
    You have to keep it centred in the scope as well, move your POV and you lose a section of the HUD data. Once I had worked it all out, I loved the display, but will note that at certain angle to the bright sky, it can wash out the lower details, so you have to squint closer for the data, this can make tough with reading on approaches. You can't hide or lower the HUD either, so it is always on.
     

     
    No doubt is if you have VR (Virtual Reality) headset, it would be realistically amazing in here, the Deltawing M-346 fully supports the VR environment, its great on a monitor in 2d, but in 3d 360º would be absolutely excellent.
     
    The CAD page gives you the standard flying instrument display on the MFD. It has the standard Artificial Horizon and speed and altitude tapes, but there is an option when in the AP mode for the AP details to be also shown on the CAD, and very good it is, sometimes easier to read than the HUD whiteout.
     

     
    My only gripe is that using the V/S Speed and Altitude capture is very hit and miss, sometimes it works, but in most cases refuses to capture your selected altitude, either more refinement is required, or more information on in how it works needs to be forthcoming from Deltawing.
     
    Range is 1,925 km (1,196 mi, 1,039 nmi), with an endurance  of 2 hours 45 minutes (4 hours with external drop tanks). Ceiling like most trainers is a very high 13,716 m (45,000 ft) to replicate fighter limits, same with the g limits of +8 -3.
     
    Sounds, brilliant of course, FMOD 2 in design, they totally reflect the tone and power of the F124-GA-200, its behind you as you accelerate, but aurally around you as you twist the Aermacchi around in the air, so yes it comes with 360º doppler movement...  other smaller, switch, gear extension/retraction and alert sounds are all perfect, its a very sonic environment...    just listen to the air-pressure opening and closing of the canopy.
     
    A feature of the Aermacchi M-346 is the PARS system which is a "Pilot Activated Recovery System"...  the idea is to recover the aircraft to a safe flight situation, say if a student panicked, or a loss of conscious (blackout)...  there is a button on the console behind the stick that activates the system...
     

     
    So I drop the M-346 into a death roll and fall...
     

     
    ...    so I pushed the stick more forward... more nose down and now past the point of recovery...
     

     
    ...  then you hit the PARS button, and lo & behold the Aermacchi, just quickly and simply recovered itself to a nice safe level flying position!
     

     
    So the system is very realistic.
     
    Fuel system is very good. You have 2x Internal Tanks and 2x Wing Tanks...  plus 2x Pylon Tanks for a total of 4075 Lts, or 8965 Lbs of fuel
     

     
    Hit the "EMERG JETT" or "Do NOT Touch" button and the pylon tanks drop away...
     
    In one area of the flight envelope, it is the landing that needs skill. This is a powerful, but also slippery aircraft... So first it is at first hard to slow down, certainly if you fly very high and lose altitude quickly, rubbing off the speed is tricky, difficult. You do have a very effective airbrake above your heads to the rear, and it makes a difference. It has two stages of deployment.
     

     
    The default official stall speed is 95 knts, but you would never go that low before falling out of the sky, it feels more like 130 knts, several approaches at the Full (LDG) flap setting, I was already sinking at around 135 knts, so the best approach speed is 140 knts.
     

     
    Slipping to 129 knts I had a nice slope down into the runway, but you feel you are on the edge of lift, worse you feel that your approaching the runway far too fast, it just comes at you at a "hell" of a speed, fast...  but how can you go slower?
     

     
    Touch is around 120 knts, but it feels still to fast...  this is actually my second approach and landing, the first, then I had literally fell out of the sky with the loss of lift, this time around was better, not perfect but better...  so you can see it needs practise to get a landing right at the feeling of the high speed.
     

     
    Once down you feel you are now sprinting down the runway... fast, so be careful on the brakes. To help, once the rear gear hits the tarmac, the both aileron surfaces popup to act as airbrakes, its very well done.
     

     
    So the M-346 is tricky to get right in the lower speed zone, the same in the air as the throttle adjustments have to be absolutely perfect to get the right speeds to keep you aloft, you do however get the right feel the more you spend time in the aircraft. Power on in most phases of the flight, and you simply don't think about it at all, but it is certainly one aircraft to learn and absorb at those slower speeds.
     
    I have sort of mentioned it above. the Manual is very good, it is 85 pages including a rough checklist. But there is the issue in that the manual is all images, so you can't search or find certain topics, so the only way to find the information is to constantly scroll through the manual, and look at every area, with it's complex acronyms makes it hard to find, and worse most are not labeled on their action. Notes are few and far between, so with aircraft of this Menu driven complexity, then a tutorial is required. Skunkcraft Updater is also available here.
     
    Liveries
    There are eleven liveries with the Aermacchi. Three are Leonardo Factory liveries, and six are the current Air Force operators, altogether they are all excellent in design and 4K quality. Deltawing is the default developer livery, but also the best of the set.
     

    _____________
    Summary
    The Aermacchi M-346 Master is a family of military twin-engine transonic advanced jet trainers and light combat aircraft. It is a twin-seater modern powerful trainer that has been a recent success in being active currently in six Armed Forces.
     
    Deltawing Simulations, a very well known and quality based X-Plane developer, is also known for their excellent F16C Fighting Falcon series of aircraft. And here is another brilliant Simulation from this evergreen master.
     
    Modeling is simply X-Plane 12 wow factor. The aircraft stands out in the simulator for total realism and immersion, both externally and internally. Military systems are first rate including a quality HUD (Head Up Display), UFCP (Up Front Control Panel) top central and three MFDs (Multi-Function Display), that are interchangeable. System depth is already excellent, but expect more pages to follow in updates, its all complex to use, but authentic. This is trainer, so not armed (unless you count dropping the external fuel tanks), but a M-346FA Fighter variant might come in the future. All animations, certainly the complex gear movements are also a highlight. The clever PARS system "Pilot Activated Recovery System" is also very well replicated here.
     
    Banner menu covers; Refuel Probe, Before Flight , Ladder, Choks (sic) and pilot OPTIONS in show/hide pilot and opening of the helmet visors are all great well done features...  Static elements here are very good, and the aircraft has it's own built in APU. Lighting is excellent inside and out, and features "Formation" lights or Slime. Sounds are also top notch, with 360º FMOD 2 quality and aural cockpit sounds.
     
    Gripes are extremely small, more or better documentation... better still a tutorial on theses complex aircraft are required, they are acronym hell, and the details need to be explained.
     
    You are starting to expect or are referencing a higher quality and feel factor in these X-Plane 12 only created simulations, these are projects done under the X-Plane 12 environment and are not transitioned from earlier versions of X-Plane. It is highly noticeable in every aspect of these modern creations. But in being also value priced at under US$40, you are getting here the total best of both worlds, higher quality and systems, for a very credible price. The Deltawing Aermacchi M-346 certainly delivers massively in both or all areas. It's nice to fly and balance as well... but the thing that comes across more than anything in the Aermacchi is the higher realism...  with projects like these, the real world gap to simulation is closing in even more....   Highly Recommended!
    ___________________
     

     
    Yes! the Leonardo Aermacchi M-346 AJT by Deltawing Simulations is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here :
     
    Leonardo Aermacchi M-346 AJT
    On sale: US$39.95
     
    Main Features:
    Highly detailed 3d exterior model Highly detailed 3d cockpit model Highly detailed landing gear system Highly detailed pilot figures Dual cockpit Custom remove before flight objects Custom particles system Realistic FMOD custom sounds 4K textures Realistic startup sequence Custom cockpit lights Custom external lights Custom external fuel tanks (droppable) Fully custom electronics system Fully custom environmental system Fully custom autopilot Fully custom Fly-By-Wire system 3 individual fully custom MFD displays, as close to the original as possible Supports Skunkcraft updater 11free 4K highly detailed liveries included Supports VR Requirements:
    X-Plane 12 (not for XP11)
    Windows, Mac (M1 and M2 are supported) or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 742 MB
    Current version: 1.0.0_0r3 (January 26th 2024)   Note: In order to use and enjoy VR environment in X-Plane, user hardware and system specs should meet the required specifications for OS, CPU, GPU, MB and RAM which are specified both in the given VR hardware websites and at X-Plane.com.   Aircraft download is 741 Mb, and unpacked then installed in your X-Plane  Aircraft folder 2.36 Gb. Authorization on startup is required   Documents DWSim M-346AJT Manual
     
    Design by DeltaWing Simulations
    Support forum: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/forums/forum/753-aermacchi-m-346-advanced-jet-trainer/
    https://deltawingsim.com/ _____________________
    Review System Specifications: 
    Windows  - 12th Gen IS1700 Core i7 12700K 12 Core 3.60 GHz CPU - 64bit -32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - PNY GeForce RTX 3080 10GB XLR8 - Samsung 970 EVO+ 2TB SSD
    Software:   - Windows 11 Pro - X-Plane 12.09rc3 (This is a Release Candidate review).
    Plugins: Traffic Global - JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00
    Scenery or Aircraft
    - LICC - Catania-Fontanarossa Airport 2.1 by FlyDave  (X-Plane.Org) - Free
    ___________________________
     
    Review by Stephen Dutton
    29th January 2024
    Copyright©2024: X-Plane Reviews
     
    (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
     

  21. Like
    Stephen got a reaction from Kiwiflyer in NEWS! - vSkyLabs update Rutan Model-158 Pond Racer - Test-Pilot Project to X-Plane12   
    NEWS! - vSkyLabs update Rutan Model-158 Pond Racer - Test-Pilot Project to X-Plane12
     

     
    It's the weird and the wonderful, it's of course a Rutan design, the Model-158 Pond Racer, now this over-powered machine is available in X-Plane 12.
     
    First is the name "Pond Racer"...  it is not an aircraft designed to fly over water, but the designation is taken by the person who wanted to compete in air-races, Robert J Pond, he also created the Palm Springs Air Museum in California.
     
    Bob Pond commissioned the Model-158 design with the idea of developing a modern aircraft that could compete with the vintage warbirds in the Unlimited Class at the Reno air races. Bob Pond was concerned that each year at the Reno Air Races, valuable and historic aircraft were being crashed and destroyed, not to mention many engines being damaged or wrecked beyond repair. The Pond Racer was hoped to be an alternative to vintage aircraft like the P-51 Mustang and the Hawker Sea Fury that would be as fast and spectacular in the air as the warbirds. To do this he turned to the most avant-garde of all the aviation designers in Burt Rutan, and Scaled Composites.
     
    The Model-158 airframe was constructed of composite materials, carbon fiber and Kevlar. This resulted in a very light, strong aircraft. And to power the plane, then two Electramotive 3 liter V-6 engines were chosen. These were based on the Nissan VG30 automobile engine. The engines were originally developed for auto racing and were turbocharged to produce 1,000 hp (750 kW). However, those fitted to the Pond Racer only ever achieved a peak of around 600 hp (450 kW). The engines drove 4-bladed propellers via propeller speed reduction units.
     
    The result was something out of Star Wars or the racing machines in "The Phantom Menace" episode one of the series. Huge massive twin engines are connected to what is basically a glider cockpit, it flew, and by the results it actually flew very well, but overall it was a flying death trap.
     
    This is the full X-Plane12 version of the Model-158
    XP12 - version 3.0 (25th January 2024): Deep flight dynamics engineering: PT6A-28 tune-ups to include the latest X-Plane 12.0.8+ turbo-prop engine simulation features and calibration variables (including propellers and power gradients). Overall aerodynamics tuneups to fall in line with the latest X-Plane 12.0.8+ features and calibration variables. Systems: New 3-d Heads-Up-Display. Cockpit night lighting systems re-engineering. Graphics and modeling: Remodeled cockpit compartment to include engineering improvements (lower floor, improved rudder pedals). Extensive PBR tuneups for the cockpit to fall in line with the latest X-Plane 12 lighting physics. Textures enhancements in and out. XP11 model is still available and is in version 2.1       Project's Main Features: Fully Optimized for X-Plane 12 X-Plane 11 version still available as a bonus VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' project. Highly defined flight dynamics model of the Model-158. Highly defined PT6 turboprop engine simulation (PT6A-28) including its associated peripheral systems. Built around the powerful, native X-Plane's 'Experimental Flight Model' environment. In-depth systems simulation: Fully equipped aircraft with deep systems simulation (electrical, lighting and warning systems, comprehensive fuel system, fire protection, bleed air and pneumatic systems, ice protection systems, pressurization system, landing gears system, flight control, oxygen system, canopy system, auto-feathering and auto-ignition systems and more). 3D Heads-up Display. VR (Virtual Reality) Ready. Multi-Layer FMOD sound pack. 50-pages, comprehensive, illustrated Pilot Operations Manual, including checklists. Skunkcraft Updater.  Project updates are fast and efficient! Included Paint-Kit.  
    X-PlaneReviews review (Early beta X-Plane12 version) is here:
    Aircraft Review/Tutorial: VSKYLABS- Rutan Model-158 Project
     
    Images are courtesy of vSkyLabs...
     
    Rutan Model-158 Pond Racer by vSkyLabs is now available from the X-Plane.OrgStore
    _____________________________________
     

     
    Yes! Rutan Model-158 Pond Racer X-Plane 12 by vSkyLabs is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here :

    Rutan Model-158 Pond Racer - Test-Pilot Project
    Price is US$39.00, on sale for US$29.00, You Save:$6.00(17%)
     
    Requirements
    X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11
    Windows, Mac or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version:  3.0  XP12 (January 25th 2024) ___________________________
     
    News by Stephen Dutton
    26th January 2024
    Copyright©2024: X-Plane Reviews
     
    (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
     

  22. Like
    Stephen got a reaction from Busair in NEWS! - vSkyLabs update Rutan Model-158 Pond Racer - Test-Pilot Project to X-Plane12   
    NEWS! - vSkyLabs update Rutan Model-158 Pond Racer - Test-Pilot Project to X-Plane12
     

     
    It's the weird and the wonderful, it's of course a Rutan design, the Model-158 Pond Racer, now this over-powered machine is available in X-Plane 12.
     
    First is the name "Pond Racer"...  it is not an aircraft designed to fly over water, but the designation is taken by the person who wanted to compete in air-races, Robert J Pond, he also created the Palm Springs Air Museum in California.
     
    Bob Pond commissioned the Model-158 design with the idea of developing a modern aircraft that could compete with the vintage warbirds in the Unlimited Class at the Reno air races. Bob Pond was concerned that each year at the Reno Air Races, valuable and historic aircraft were being crashed and destroyed, not to mention many engines being damaged or wrecked beyond repair. The Pond Racer was hoped to be an alternative to vintage aircraft like the P-51 Mustang and the Hawker Sea Fury that would be as fast and spectacular in the air as the warbirds. To do this he turned to the most avant-garde of all the aviation designers in Burt Rutan, and Scaled Composites.
     
    The Model-158 airframe was constructed of composite materials, carbon fiber and Kevlar. This resulted in a very light, strong aircraft. And to power the plane, then two Electramotive 3 liter V-6 engines were chosen. These were based on the Nissan VG30 automobile engine. The engines were originally developed for auto racing and were turbocharged to produce 1,000 hp (750 kW). However, those fitted to the Pond Racer only ever achieved a peak of around 600 hp (450 kW). The engines drove 4-bladed propellers via propeller speed reduction units.
     
    The result was something out of Star Wars or the racing machines in "The Phantom Menace" episode one of the series. Huge massive twin engines are connected to what is basically a glider cockpit, it flew, and by the results it actually flew very well, but overall it was a flying death trap.
     
    This is the full X-Plane12 version of the Model-158
    XP12 - version 3.0 (25th January 2024): Deep flight dynamics engineering: PT6A-28 tune-ups to include the latest X-Plane 12.0.8+ turbo-prop engine simulation features and calibration variables (including propellers and power gradients). Overall aerodynamics tuneups to fall in line with the latest X-Plane 12.0.8+ features and calibration variables. Systems: New 3-d Heads-Up-Display. Cockpit night lighting systems re-engineering. Graphics and modeling: Remodeled cockpit compartment to include engineering improvements (lower floor, improved rudder pedals). Extensive PBR tuneups for the cockpit to fall in line with the latest X-Plane 12 lighting physics. Textures enhancements in and out. XP11 model is still available and is in version 2.1       Project's Main Features: Fully Optimized for X-Plane 12 X-Plane 11 version still available as a bonus VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' project. Highly defined flight dynamics model of the Model-158. Highly defined PT6 turboprop engine simulation (PT6A-28) including its associated peripheral systems. Built around the powerful, native X-Plane's 'Experimental Flight Model' environment. In-depth systems simulation: Fully equipped aircraft with deep systems simulation (electrical, lighting and warning systems, comprehensive fuel system, fire protection, bleed air and pneumatic systems, ice protection systems, pressurization system, landing gears system, flight control, oxygen system, canopy system, auto-feathering and auto-ignition systems and more). 3D Heads-up Display. VR (Virtual Reality) Ready. Multi-Layer FMOD sound pack. 50-pages, comprehensive, illustrated Pilot Operations Manual, including checklists. Skunkcraft Updater.  Project updates are fast and efficient! Included Paint-Kit.  
    X-PlaneReviews review (Early beta X-Plane12 version) is here:
    Aircraft Review/Tutorial: VSKYLABS- Rutan Model-158 Project
     
    Images are courtesy of vSkyLabs...
     
    Rutan Model-158 Pond Racer by vSkyLabs is now available from the X-Plane.OrgStore
    _____________________________________
     

     
    Yes! Rutan Model-158 Pond Racer X-Plane 12 by vSkyLabs is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here :

    Rutan Model-158 Pond Racer - Test-Pilot Project
    Price is US$39.00, on sale for US$29.00, You Save:$6.00(17%)
     
    Requirements
    X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11
    Windows, Mac or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version:  3.0  XP12 (January 25th 2024) ___________________________
     
    News by Stephen Dutton
    26th January 2024
    Copyright©2024: X-Plane Reviews
     
    (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
     

  23. Like
    Stephen got a reaction from Busair in Scenery Review : KJFK - John F Kennedy International Airport XP12 by Nimbus Studios   
    Scenery Review : KJFK - John F Kennedy International Airport XP12 by Nimbus Studios
     
    Idlewild Airport was named after the Idlewild Beach Golf Course that it displaced in New York's east. KIDL was built to relieve LaGuardia Field, which had already become overcrowded, and the new eastern seaboard based airport was opened in 1948. Following the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963, the airport was then renamed John F. Kennedy International Airport as a tribute to the 35th President of the United States. Since then it has always been known as "Kennedy" and it is biggest gateway into America on the east coast.
     
    Idlewild opened with six runways and a seventh under construction as runways 1L and 7L were held in reserve and never came into use as runways. Runway 31R (originally 8,000 ft or 2,438 m) is still in use; runway 31L (originally 9,500 ft or 2,896 m) opened soon after the rest of the airport and is still in use; runway 1R closed in 1957 and runway 7R closed around 1966. Runway 4 (originally 8,000 ft, now runway 4L) opened June 1949 and runway 4R was added ten years later. A smaller runway 14/32 was built after runway 7R closed and was used until 1990.
     
    When the airport was renamed John F. Kennedy International Airport on December 24, 1963, a month and two days after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy; Mayor Robert F. Wagner Jr. proposed the renaming. The IDL and KIDL codes have since been reassigned to Indianola Municipal Airport in Mississippi, and the now-renamed Kennedy Airport was given the codes JFK and KJFK, the fallen president's initials.
    Airlines began scheduling jets to Idlewild in 1958–59; LaGuardia did not get jets until 1964, and swiftly JFK became New York's busiest airport. It had more airline takeoffs and landings than LaGuardia and Newark combined from 1962 to 1967 and was the second-busiest airport in the country, peaking at 403,981 airline operations in 1967. Concorde, operated by Air France and British Airways, also made scheduled trans-Atlantic supersonic flights to JFK from November 22, 1977, until its retirement by British Airways on October 24, 2003. Air France had already earlier retired the aircraft in May 2003. In these early heady times Pan American Airlines and Eastern Airlines dominated JFK, since lately it is now an American Airlines and JetBlue hub.
     
    The last new scenery from Nimbus Studios was the excellent KIAD - Washington Dulles International Airport, of which is one of my favorites. But in using Dulles, I have to comment that although the scenery is excellent, it also has a very big framerate footprint. It soaks up framerate like no tomorrow, and in moments of heavy weather, it can reduce it's capacity as far down to the dreaded teen framerate barrier numbers. Why I don't know? because the actual scenery is set a long way from the heavy Washington DC custom and autogen objects. My fear here is that Kennedy is in even a worse place with all the heavy autogen surrounding the airport and with the New York Skyline in the distance.
     
    Interesting is an earlier New York scenery by Nimbus Studios, as he was known back then in 2014 as Santiago Butnaru. This is an X-Plane 10 version of Newark KEWR, and yes it's still available if you want to add it to this KJFK scenery. But don't expect the same quality after a decade. Our KEWR review is here if you want the decade old X-Plane 10 shock (lacking) of detail. I also recommend with the Nimbus Studio's KJFK, is the Drzewiecki Design New York City XP, for a credible New York skyline, which is shown here in this review.
     

     
    John F. Kennedy International Airport
    IATA: JFK - ICAO: KJFK - FAA LID: JFK

    4L/22R - 12,079ft (3,460m) Concrete
    04R/22L - 8,400ft (2,560m) Asphalt
    13L/31R - 10,000ft (3,048m) Concrete
    13R/31L- 14,511ft (4,423m) Concrete
    Elevation AMSL13 ft / 4 m
     

     
    First impressions of Nimbus's JFK are extremely positive, it looks very good set in the Queens borough of eastern New York, there is a lot of nice autogen around the scenery and it fits into the built-up area very nicely, credible it is. A very early feature I liked was in the way the water and underlying graphics created a very realistic shoreline, this is X-Plane 12 magic, but really well done here, especially on the runway 4L approach with the mangrove setting.
     

     
    JFK has five active terminals running anti-clockwise, containing 130 gates in total. The terminals are numbered 1–8 but skipping terminals 2 (demolished in 2023), 3 (demolished in 2013) and 6 (demolished in 2011).
     
     

     
    Terminal 1
    Terminal 1 opened in 1998, 50 years after the opening of JFK, at the direction of the Terminal One Group, a consortium of four key operating carriers: Air France, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, and Lufthansa. This partnership was founded after the four airlines reached an agreement that the then-existing international carrier facilities were inadequate for their needs. The original Eastern Air Lines terminal was located on the site of present-day Terminal 1.
    Terminal 1 is served by SkyTeam carriers Air France, China Eastern Airlines, ITA Airways, Korean Air, and Saudia; Star Alliance carriers Air China, Air New Zealand, Asiana Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Egyptair, EVA Air, Lufthansa, Swiss International Air Lines, TAP Air Portugal, and Turkish Airlines; and Oneworld carrier Royal Air Maroc. Other airlines serving Terminal 1 include Air Senegal, Air Serbia, Azores Airlines, Cayman Airways, Flair Airlines, Neos, Philippine Airlines, VivaAerobús, and Volaris. Terminal 1 was designed by William Nicholas Bodouva + Associates.
    T1 and T4 are the two terminals at JFK Airport with only the capability of handling the Airbus A380 aircraft, which Korean Air flies on the route from Seoul–Incheon and Lufthansa from Munich. Air France operated Concorde here until 2003 (BA used T7). Terminal 1 has 11 gates.
     

     
    Butnaru always did very nice terminals and concourses, and that aspect is really well done here and right through the scenery. But they do sit (on landside) on very (very) Lo-Res graphic ortho images, so there a bit of an building island feel around the 3d structures, it's not too bad, but still noticeable. Terminal cladding is first rate (KATL-Atlanta was excellent) and it looks the part here as well. Glass is also excellent...  not a Nimbus specialty, as some of his earlier glass was very see-through and lukewarm. But here in a dark tint, it is very good with nice reflections. Another highlight are the AirTrain JFK stations (with AirTrain animations) at each Terminal on the loop tracks.
     

     
    It is modeled internally (again very lo-res), and with no windows? so it doesn't feel or look very realistic, it is mostly for the external views than you wandering around the concourses...   but the people (lo-res) are well done, even if a few are in wanting to step out into the oblivion "Stop, look, it's not that bad....  don't do it!"
     

     
    Terminal 2
    Oddly there is still the old and now demolished Terminal 2 facility in the Nimbus scenery? Sadly it looks great, because it is a heritage building from JFK's past, and the detail here is very good and authentic...  a shame, and it will probably be removed in an update.
     
    Terminal 2 opened in November 1962 as the home of Northeast Airlines, Braniff International Airways, and Northwest Orient, and was last occupied by Delta Air Lines that have now moved to T4.
     

     
    Notable is that in October 2018, Cuomo released details of a $13 billion plan to rebuild passenger facilities and approaches to JFK Airport. Two all-new international terminals would be built. One of the terminals, a $7 billion, 2.8-million-square-foot (260-thousand-square-metre), 23-gate structure replacing Terminals 1, 2 and the vacant space of Terminal 3. It will also connect to Terminal 4, A new T6 will also replace the existing T7 and extend through T5, with seamless integration between T7 and T5. The streamlined layout will optimize the airside layout to allow for more efficient operations.
     
    Nimbus Simulations are still using throughout their sceneries, the now very old (Marginal) "Autogate" system and not the usual standard and more modern SAM system. The Marginal system however has had a lot of attention from Laminar and is now to a point also been amalgamated into the default of the X-Plane system...  
     
    It does (occasionally) work here, but now directly in X-Plane 12 through the "Ground Handing" feature (Shift+G), then press the "Toggle Jetway attachment" button.
     

     
    Triva...  Terminal 3, also known by the trademarked name "Worldport", which was an roofed saucer airport terminal built by Pan American World Airways (Pan Am) in 1960. It operated from May 24, 1960 to May 24, 2013, and was demolished in 2013–2014.
     

     

     
    Terminal 4
    Terminal 4 currently contains 48 gates in two concourses and functions as the hub for Delta Air Lines at JFK. Concourse A (gates A2–A12, A14–A17, A19, and A21) serves primarily Asian and some European airlines along with Delta Connection flights, while Concourse B primarily serves both domestic & international flights of Delta and its SkyTeam partners.
     
    Opened in early 2001 and designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, the 1.5-million-square-foot (140,000 m2) facility was built for $1.4 billion and replaced JFK's old International Arrivals Building (IAB), which opened in 1957 and was designed by the same architectural firm. The new construction incorporated a mezzanine-level AirTrain station, an expansive check-in hall, and a four-block-long retail area
     

     
    The Heathrow T5 style terminal facade is very evident here, and looks excellent in design and detail from Nimbus. Internal structures can be seen externally, but it is very basic inside. But it does the job well, for what it has to do.
     

     
    Left concourse B gates, right are the A gates
     

     
    Concourse A is a long snake of three separate concourses, in large (wide-body), medium (single aisle) and at the end the small (regional)
     

     
    Sections are of lovely aluminum cladding that look great in the sunlight, the dark glass is excellent as well. Detail and the visual aspect is extremely realistic from Nimbus. The lower (crowded) regional Walk-on/off with lo-rise gates are fantastic, shame the airbridges don't work connecting like with SAM?
     

     
    Airlines servicing Terminal 4 include SkyTeam carriers Aeromexico, Air Europa, China Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Kenya Airways, KLM, and Virgin Atlantic; Star Alliance carriers Air India, Avianca, Copa Airlines, and Singapore Airlines; and non-alliance carriers Caribbean Airlines, El Al, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue (late night international arrivals only), LATAM Brasil, LATAM Chile, LATAM Peru, Uzbekistan Airways, and WestJet. Like Terminal 1, the facility is Airbus A380-compatible with service currently provided by Emirates to Dubai; both non-stop and one-stop via Milan. These are mostly in the B Gates, which feels like a more modern addition than the A section.
     

     
    It's an 18-story air traffic control tower, iconic now, very Gerry Anderson, and it replaced the older square Heathrow style IAB tower in 1957. Detail of this centrally placed tower is excellent, really very authentic to the real tower set between the A and B concourses. You have gotta love this wing design and the lovely concrete facade. Internally it can be seen from the ramps for the excellent internal realism of the high floors.
     

     
    Terminal 5
    Terminal 5 opened in 2008 for JetBlue, now the manager and primary tenant of the building, as the base of its large JFK operating base. The terminal is also used by Cape Air. On November 12, 2014, JetBlue opened the International Arrivals Concourse (T5i) at the terminal. The new facility replaced the old TWA Flight Center which was opened in 1962 and closed in 2001 after its primary tenant, Trans World Airlines went out of business.
     
    The active Terminal 5 building has 29 gates: 1 through 12 and 14 through 30, with gates 25 through 30 handling international flights that are not pre-cleared (gates 28–30 opened in November 2014).
     

     
    The T5 terminal was redesigned by Gensler and constructed by Turner Construction, and was sited behind the preserved Eero Saarinen-designed terminal originally known as the TWA Flight Center, which is now connected to the new structure and is considered part of Terminal 5. The TWA Flight Center reopened as the TWA Hotel in May 2019 (the lower building below).
     
    TWA Flight Center, designed for Trans World Airlines by Eero Saarinen and Associates, was erected between 1959 and 1962; it operated as an air terminal until 2001. It has a prominent wing-shaped thin shell roof supported by four Y-shaped piers. There is an open three-level space with tall windows that originally offered views of departing and arriving jets.
     

     
    The Terminal 5 complex is well done, with excellent cladding and nice glass, again the highlight is the AirTrain corridors and walkways, but the TWA Flight Center is a bit lo-res, even clunky to the real life smooth images. Internally it only as good for looking inside and again not for exploring, a shame as it would have been a nice exercise to do so. Modeled and sitting outside in the forecourt is an old TWA Lockheed Constellation.
     

     
    Terminal 7
    Terminal 7 was designed by GMW Architects and built for BOAC and Air Canada in 1970. Formerly, the terminal was operated by British Airways, and was also the only airport terminal operated on US soil by a foreign carrier. British Airways operated Concorde here until 2003.
     
    Terminal 7 is now operated by a consortium of foreign carriers serving the building. Airlines operating out of Terminal 7 include Oneworld carrier Alaska Airlines, Star Alliance carriers Air Canada Express, All Nippon Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, and Scandinavian Airlines; SkyTeam carrier Aerolíneas Argentinas; and non-alliance carriers Aer Lingus, Condor, Icelandair, Kuwait Airways, Norse Atlantic Airways, and Sun Country Airlines.
     

     
    Well done here is the ageing facility, it looks worn and tired and is due to be demolished soon. As scenery by Nimbus it is excellent, but again the surroundings and detailing is quite low, not much fill and those lo-res textures are more a distraction than effective, but airside is well served with service vehicles and clutter.
     
    Terminal 8
    Terminal 8 is a major Oneworld hub with American operating its east coast hub from here. In 1999, American Airlines began an eight-year program to build the largest passenger terminal at JFK, designed by DMJM Aviation to replace both the old Terminal 8 and Terminal 9. The new terminal was built in four phases, which involved the construction of a new midfield concourse and the demolition of old Terminals 8 and 9. It was built in stages between 2005 and its official opening was in August 2007.
     
    Other Oneworld airlines that operate out of Terminal 8 include British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, and Royal Jordanian. Non-alliance carrier China Southern Airlines also uses the terminal.
     

     
    A more modern facility...  because it is. Terminal 8 is not olde world JFK, but the same sort of of modern terminal and island concourse like most major hub airports today. Again the modeling is first rate with excellent aluminum cladding and support frames. There is the same nice AirTrain connection, and lots of bustle and clutter on the airside, but very little on the landside.
     

     
    It is worth looking inside T8, as the internal detail is there, it's again (very) Lo-Res, but a lot of objects fill out the windows (externally), windows are still missing and even parts of the roof are open here also.
     

     
    Infrastucture
    In the central landside area is a Power Plant! The Kennedy International Airport Power Plant is a gas-fired cogeneration facility. Two LM6000 combustion turbines are routed to two heat recovery steam generators, which provide steam to one steam turbine and JFK’s thermal plant. The complex is very well replicated here, with the two generators that are very well modeled, visually the plant was required.
     

     
    It is a bit of a delusion. Because the carparks are empty on top and surrounds, so it looks like there isn't much fill, carpark clutter. But overall the 3d vehicle clutter here is totally excellent...  all the areas are well covered, more so in the outer ring areas.
     

     
    The JFK AirTrain loop is also excellent, and as noted fully animated with the system stopping at every station, the quality of the railcars are also well done. The animation is also very smooth on the tracks, with not any quick flicks or sudden movements.
     

     
    Animated vehicle traffic is good as well, not branded, and to be honest not a lot of vehicles moving around either, but enough to make the ring-roads buzzy and animated.
     

     
    Cargo
    Overall Cargo is a bit messy at JFK, as there are four to five different areas for cargo, then a lot of smaller ramps and terminals. Areas are not designated either, so it's tricky to find the one you want...  if you a hauler, you would need to study the charts before you get to JFK in where to go. The biggest cargo area is in the north that front's 13L/31R...  taxiway C.
     

     
    Operators here include FedEx, DHL and a large United States Postal Service facility...  the ARK animal receiving building is here as well...
     

     
    ...  notable is the now empty area in front of FedEx, here originally were the three huge dilapidated hangers that fronted 13L/31R, now gone, and another piece of JFK history removed.
     

     
    Threshold Rwy 13L is another large cargo area...  UPS and LAN Cargo are the main customers here.
     

     
    Korean Air, Delta Air Cargo and British Airways Cargo also have facilities, and all are represented...
     

     
    Maintenance has a few large Engineering facilities.... The one that stands out is the massive central JetBlue Engineering hangar, well done inside and outside with open doors. American Airlines also have a huge maintenance hanger as well, and both are excellent in the Nimbus scenery.
     

     
    Far Northwest is another large Cargo and Maintenance area...
     

     
    It is a very busy area, with the Port Authority Police Department at the head. The Worldwide Flight Services facility dominates, but the old United Airline Hangars (now F & E Maintenance) are present in the scenery as well. Notable mid-way is the General Aviation area, it's big with a load of Helicopter pads, but the GA Terminal is annoyingly very basic with poor Lo-Res textures, a shame as it is a very highly usable area for large GA aircraft and Private Jets..
     
     
     
    Finally there is a load of remote Car Rental agencies set out on the outer perimeter....  So it is a vast and wide set set scenery that goes a long way out to the Old Howard Beach suburb from the central terminal area....   and all of it is very well covered by Nimbus Studios.
     

     
    Ground Textures
    Looking closely at the ground textures they are very good, if even excellent. Being a classic airport, JFK has the usual patch and other cleaner new areas all over the field hard surfaces, it's well done here, better on close inspection, with heavily worn in rubber marks and even the slight marbles of the worn rolled rubber off line. Lineage is worn and tired as well, were it needs to be.
     

     
    I'll give the concrete ramps a tick, mostly for the rust stains and tire wear, but they are not deep in grunge like you would expect after decades of service.
     
    Between junction NA and NB are the taxiway bridges over the Van Wyck Expressway. The bridges are well done here in there 3d description, but the poor ortho (again here extremely lo-res) joins are a visual perturbation with poor alignment. No live traffic flows also makes the lower view not very realistic or active.
     

     
    The PBR reflective (wet) active textures and burnt-in ambient occlusion is excellent here, one of the big advantages of X-Plane 12. Your runways shine in the daylight, and all the texture surfaces come out, ice and snow effects are again first rate, and if you want a snowed in New York Airport, it won't be bettered here
     

     
    Excellent also is the spring style grass...  so many developers lately have been doing really shitty grass, but it's perfect here. And when it works on taxiing or landing, and great grass can create an all-around better realism. Airfield furniture, is very good like the realistic blast fences, but a lot of the field out-buildings are really laughable Lo-Res, this is 2024, not 2004.
     

     
    Cararsie Approach
    The official chart is noted as "PARKWAY VISUAL", but most aviators and bluffs call it the "Cararsie Approach". The Canarsie Visual was created in the 1970s.
    There are three airports very close to each other in the NY area (KJFK, John F Kennedy; KLGA, La Guardia; KEWR, Newark Liberty) A straight line in approach to 13L using the ILS wouldn’t make sense as it will intersect into the LGA airspace, making insufficient separation a problem. So any ILS approach into runway 13L it would not be possible...   the solution was a tight turn close to the 13L/13R Thresholds.
     

     
    Basically the approach starts at Rockaway Point, where you proceed to CRI or Cararsie VOR. There is a small island to the east straight ahead at Canarsie Pier. A heading of 041 should be flown from this point until Jamaica Bay. If you are landing runway 13R you should start your descent between the pier and Twin Stacks (near Jamaica Bay), but maintain altitude if you are heading for 13L. For 13R you now do the turn and head into the approach...  13L, when you start your descent, and then turn slightly in the direction of the Crossbay Parkway and Shore Parkway intersection, however stay slightly south of where the roads meet, until the Aqueduct Race Track (you can take the first part of the Shore Parkway east of the intersection as a landmark.) After that, alignment with the 13L runway, keep descending and land.
     
    The sight of huge heavies turning tight into 13L is folklore, and there are hundreds of videos to show you the approach, even Concorde used this approach, although the very tight 10,000ft length of 13L/31R of usable runway made it a exacting landing, but it is obviously worth your talent to do the "Cararsie Approach".
     
    The Cararsie Approach is easy(ish) in the daylight, but what about at night? the Port Authority created three sets of RAIL (Runway Alignment Indicator Lights) that guide you into the 13L Runway. These RAIL section lights have been very well reproduced here in the Nimbus JFK scenery, the last set however are positioned on a building in front of 13L, but to note, they are slightly to the right of the 13L Centreline and also angled away.
     

     
    Lighting
    All approach lighting is to the full ICAO brightness standards as required in X-Plane 12, so yes it is very, very good.
     

     
    Every developer has their own take and feel with X-Plane night lighting, very few get it perfect. Nimbus's approach is for wide spots on the ramps (very good), but has clear bright see-through windows with the Terminals and Concourses. Realistic, not really no, as you would rarely see this sort of opacity on tinted windows, but it is an interesting approach
     

     
    But the ramps are nice to arrive into, so from an airside perspective the Nimbus JFK works. The control tower floors are lit up, it looks great, but again the tower's operating floor should be in darkness for obvious reasons. Carpark lighting is horrible, and you can see directly into the TWA hotel rooms at night...  a view that looks really weird, and not very realistic either.
     

     
    The JetBlue Maintenance hangar is lovely at night, as is the landside road signage...  navigation signage is also very good and realistic.
     

     
    Framerate
    At the head of the Nimbus JFK review I noted framerate, so what is the verdict? Overall the scenery is very good to excellent considering the framerate footprint here. But those numbers come with compromises. For one there has been a considerable effort by Nimbus Designs to keep the framerate hit numbers down, but with the use of "Very" Low-Res ortho ground textures, and very, very Low-Res objects in the field. Its noticeable sadly, but these areas are not where it counts in using the airport scenery. Secondly you can't be too greedy with your graphic settings, mainly and obviously the "Texture Quality" slider, the Anti-Aliasing needs to be lower as well, again to the detriment of those Lo-Res textures. But in the main the quality is quite high, so usable. To fit in a New York skyline, heavy autogen and this very wide area spaced out airport with  millions of objects in the scenery, and to run it all with space to spare is a good result, Mostly in the past I have arrived in New York and my framerate is stuttering, usually badly, with the Nimbus JFK, it is however highly usable, so that is the main objective here, good considering the compromises. But would I also compromise a little more framerate for better and more realistic ortho textures, that is yes, a definite yes.
    _____________
    Summary
    Idlewild Airport was named after the Idlewild Beach Golf Course that it displaced in New York's east. Then following the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963, the airport was then renamed John F. Kennedy International Airport as a tribute to the 35th President of the United States and "Kennedy" is biggest gateway into America on the east coast.
     
    The last new scenery from Nimbus Studios was the excellent KIAD - Washington Dulles International Airport, of which is one of my favorites. Other major sceneries produced over a decade include, Chicago KORD, Orlando KMCO, Atlanta KATL and Miami KMIA, so Nimbus Studios are a very experienced and quality developer...  this is their latest release for X-Plane 12 only, in JFK -John Kennedy International
     
    Being a old world legacy airport, the 6th busiest in the United States, then JFK is massive in scale, as so is this scenery from Nimbus Studios, as it covers a large area, with a lot of details and objects. All the the current Terminals are covered here, but a disclaimer is required. JFK New York is currently undergoing a huge transition phase. Old Terminals 1, 2, 3 and 7 are being demolished, to be replaced by a new Terminal 1 and 6, but the older Terminals 1, 2 and 7 are still portrayed in this Nimbus scenery, as is Terminal's 4, 5 and 8 in their current configuration.
     
    Terminal and the massive infrastructure base here is extremely well modeled with nice cladding and glass, internal areas are basically modeled for external views only. But there is a compromise in Lo-Res textures for ground areas and a lot of the infrastructure, which is fair enough to cover the scale and the lighter framerate hit on your computer. Overall the scenery is excellent to the scale, so it is a worthy compromise. Other details include two Maintenance facilities for JetBlue and American Airlines, the Eero Saarinen-designed terminal originally known as the TWA Flight Center (but poor quality), TWA hotel and all the Cargo facilities and the iconic Control Tower is excellent. AirTrain animations and vehicle animations are also very good, and the JFK scenery uses the older style Marginal (updated) Jetway system.
     
    Field and apron textures are excellent as is the 3d grass. X-Plane 12 effects of Ice, snow and wet surfaces are also perfect, night-lighting is average, with these not very realistic see-through windows, but overall the apron and field lighting is very good. Final feature is the installation of the famous "Cararsie Approach" RAIL lighting, to practise your landing skills.
     
    Nimbus's JFK is huge sprawling scenery, but a very effective one, not only in the visual sense, but in the usability aspect as well, and that is the very important point here. As it works visually, and efficiently as well, that aspect alone makes this Nimbus JFK airport the best currently for the X-Plane 12 simulator...   Welcome to New York!
    __________________________
     

     
    The KJFK - New York - John F. Kennedy International Airport XP12 by Nimbus Studios is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store
     
    KJFK - New York - John F. Kennedy International Airport XP12
    Priced at US$29.95
     
    Requirements
    X-Plane 12 (not for XP11) Windows, Mac or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 1.3 GB Current version: 1.0 (January 14th 2024)   Installation
    Installation of KJFK New York XP12 is done via download of 1.33 Gb...
     
    There is only one file to insert into your X-Plane Custom Scenery Folder
    Nimbus Simulation - KJFK - V1.0 XP12  
    With a total installation size of 2.42Gb.
      There is one basic installation "READ ME" pdf (4 pages)
     

     
    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 12.09rc5 (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
    - New York City XP by Drzewiecki Design (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$36.00
    - Aircraft None -
    ____________________________
     
    Scenery Review by Stephen Dutton
    21st January 2024
    Copyright©2024: X-Plane Reviews
     
    (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
     

  24. Like
    Stephen got a reaction from Busair in NEWS! - Aircraft Updated : Gulfstream 550 v2.7 by AKD Studios   
    NEWS! - Aircraft Updated : Gulfstream 550 v2.7 by AKD Studios
     

     
    For regular updates then no one currently in the X-Plane Simulator can deliver as many as AKD Studios and their Gulfstream 550 Business Jet. In most cases you get an update once a month, some cases even twice a month, but the functionality delivered is now showing, even if the featured vehicles change shape, scale and even models over the year.
     
    This update v2.7 has some new additions, so it is worth a note...   Cockpit 3D modeling/textures/animations have again had an overhaul, which is a good thing, as it was the weakest area in the aircraft, also added are changeable side panels for the Pedestal Panel, EFB brightness control has also been added.
     
     The systems have had some (fine) tuning in electrical/air-conditioning/oxygen, as has the automatic speed control logic for the autopilot system. Also added is the FPA (Flight Path Angle) autopilot mode. Besides the new additions there has also been a load of fixes and adjustments including...
     
    • Tuned engine startup sequence which should now better match the real aircraft(XP12) • Antiice system working only when there is a AC and DC electric system (XP11/XP12) • ENG anti-ice now works only when engine is running(XP11/XP12) • Fixed EFB Simbrief integration bug with units(XP11/XP12) • Fixed TOGA system logic(XP11/XP12) • Fixed CAS system bugs(XP11/XP12) • Fixed VNAV PATH logic(XP12/XP11) • Fixed Minor MFD pages bugs(XP11/XP12) • Fixed Bug with engine start logic(XP11) • Fixed Audio Panel Fonts(XP11/XP12) • Fixed Minor Autopilot bugs(XP11/XP12) • Fixed Minor bugs(XP12/XP11) As noted all were they can be applied are for both the X-Plane 12 and X-Plane 11 versions  
     
    The Gulfstream G550 is a business jet aircraft produced by General Dynamics' Gulfstream Aerospace unit in Savannah, Georgia, US. The certification designation is GV-SP. A version with reduced fuel capacity was marketed as the G500. Gulfstream ceased production of the G550 in July 2021.
     
    AKD Studios have released a short trailer video displaying the new v2.07 features.
     

     
    You can update to AKD Studio's G550 v2.07 via your account at the X-Plane.OrgStore, or use the Skunkcraft's Updater application. ________________________________  
     
    The Gulfstream 550 v2 by AKD Studio is NOW available here at the X-Plane.OrgStore
     
    GLF550 - Ultimate Business Jet by AKD Studio
    Price is US$41.95
     
    This aircraft is now both X-Plane12 and X-Plane 11 supported
     
    Requirements
    X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11
    Windows, Mac (even native M1, M2 Macs) or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 1 GB
    Current version : 2.07 (January 17th 2024) ___________________________
     
    News by Stephen Dutton
    22nd January 2024
    Copyright©2024: X-Plane Reviews
     
    (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
     

     
  25. Thanks
    Stephen got a reaction from Kiwiflyer in Scenery Review : KJFK - John F Kennedy International Airport XP12 by Nimbus Studios   
    Scenery Review : KJFK - John F Kennedy International Airport XP12 by Nimbus Studios
     
    Idlewild Airport was named after the Idlewild Beach Golf Course that it displaced in New York's east. KIDL was built to relieve LaGuardia Field, which had already become overcrowded, and the new eastern seaboard based airport was opened in 1948. Following the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963, the airport was then renamed John F. Kennedy International Airport as a tribute to the 35th President of the United States. Since then it has always been known as "Kennedy" and it is biggest gateway into America on the east coast.
     
    Idlewild opened with six runways and a seventh under construction as runways 1L and 7L were held in reserve and never came into use as runways. Runway 31R (originally 8,000 ft or 2,438 m) is still in use; runway 31L (originally 9,500 ft or 2,896 m) opened soon after the rest of the airport and is still in use; runway 1R closed in 1957 and runway 7R closed around 1966. Runway 4 (originally 8,000 ft, now runway 4L) opened June 1949 and runway 4R was added ten years later. A smaller runway 14/32 was built after runway 7R closed and was used until 1990.
     
    When the airport was renamed John F. Kennedy International Airport on December 24, 1963, a month and two days after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy; Mayor Robert F. Wagner Jr. proposed the renaming. The IDL and KIDL codes have since been reassigned to Indianola Municipal Airport in Mississippi, and the now-renamed Kennedy Airport was given the codes JFK and KJFK, the fallen president's initials.
    Airlines began scheduling jets to Idlewild in 1958–59; LaGuardia did not get jets until 1964, and swiftly JFK became New York's busiest airport. It had more airline takeoffs and landings than LaGuardia and Newark combined from 1962 to 1967 and was the second-busiest airport in the country, peaking at 403,981 airline operations in 1967. Concorde, operated by Air France and British Airways, also made scheduled trans-Atlantic supersonic flights to JFK from November 22, 1977, until its retirement by British Airways on October 24, 2003. Air France had already earlier retired the aircraft in May 2003. In these early heady times Pan American Airlines and Eastern Airlines dominated JFK, since lately it is now an American Airlines and JetBlue hub.
     
    The last new scenery from Nimbus Studios was the excellent KIAD - Washington Dulles International Airport, of which is one of my favorites. But in using Dulles, I have to comment that although the scenery is excellent, it also has a very big framerate footprint. It soaks up framerate like no tomorrow, and in moments of heavy weather, it can reduce it's capacity as far down to the dreaded teen framerate barrier numbers. Why I don't know? because the actual scenery is set a long way from the heavy Washington DC custom and autogen objects. My fear here is that Kennedy is in even a worse place with all the heavy autogen surrounding the airport and with the New York Skyline in the distance.
     
    Interesting is an earlier New York scenery by Nimbus Studios, as he was known back then in 2014 as Santiago Butnaru. This is an X-Plane 10 version of Newark KEWR, and yes it's still available if you want to add it to this KJFK scenery. But don't expect the same quality after a decade. Our KEWR review is here if you want the decade old X-Plane 10 shock (lacking) of detail. I also recommend with the Nimbus Studio's KJFK, is the Drzewiecki Design New York City XP, for a credible New York skyline, which is shown here in this review.
     

     
    John F. Kennedy International Airport
    IATA: JFK - ICAO: KJFK - FAA LID: JFK

    4L/22R - 12,079ft (3,460m) Concrete
    04R/22L - 8,400ft (2,560m) Asphalt
    13L/31R - 10,000ft (3,048m) Concrete
    13R/31L- 14,511ft (4,423m) Concrete
    Elevation AMSL13 ft / 4 m
     

     
    First impressions of Nimbus's JFK are extremely positive, it looks very good set in the Queens borough of eastern New York, there is a lot of nice autogen around the scenery and it fits into the built-up area very nicely, credible it is. A very early feature I liked was in the way the water and underlying graphics created a very realistic shoreline, this is X-Plane 12 magic, but really well done here, especially on the runway 4L approach with the mangrove setting.
     

     
    JFK has five active terminals running anti-clockwise, containing 130 gates in total. The terminals are numbered 1–8 but skipping terminals 2 (demolished in 2023), 3 (demolished in 2013) and 6 (demolished in 2011).
     
     

     
    Terminal 1
    Terminal 1 opened in 1998, 50 years after the opening of JFK, at the direction of the Terminal One Group, a consortium of four key operating carriers: Air France, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, and Lufthansa. This partnership was founded after the four airlines reached an agreement that the then-existing international carrier facilities were inadequate for their needs. The original Eastern Air Lines terminal was located on the site of present-day Terminal 1.
    Terminal 1 is served by SkyTeam carriers Air France, China Eastern Airlines, ITA Airways, Korean Air, and Saudia; Star Alliance carriers Air China, Air New Zealand, Asiana Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Egyptair, EVA Air, Lufthansa, Swiss International Air Lines, TAP Air Portugal, and Turkish Airlines; and Oneworld carrier Royal Air Maroc. Other airlines serving Terminal 1 include Air Senegal, Air Serbia, Azores Airlines, Cayman Airways, Flair Airlines, Neos, Philippine Airlines, VivaAerobús, and Volaris. Terminal 1 was designed by William Nicholas Bodouva + Associates.
    T1 and T4 are the two terminals at JFK Airport with only the capability of handling the Airbus A380 aircraft, which Korean Air flies on the route from Seoul–Incheon and Lufthansa from Munich. Air France operated Concorde here until 2003 (BA used T7). Terminal 1 has 11 gates.
     

     
    Butnaru always did very nice terminals and concourses, and that aspect is really well done here and right through the scenery. But they do sit (on landside) on very (very) Lo-Res graphic ortho images, so there a bit of an building island feel around the 3d structures, it's not too bad, but still noticeable. Terminal cladding is first rate (KATL-Atlanta was excellent) and it looks the part here as well. Glass is also excellent...  not a Nimbus specialty, as some of his earlier glass was very see-through and lukewarm. But here in a dark tint, it is very good with nice reflections. Another highlight are the AirTrain JFK stations (with AirTrain animations) at each Terminal on the loop tracks.
     

     
    It is modeled internally (again very lo-res), and with no windows? so it doesn't feel or look very realistic, it is mostly for the external views than you wandering around the concourses...   but the people (lo-res) are well done, even if a few are in wanting to step out into the oblivion "Stop, look, it's not that bad....  don't do it!"
     

     
    Terminal 2
    Oddly there is still the old and now demolished Terminal 2 facility in the Nimbus scenery? Sadly it looks great, because it is a heritage building from JFK's past, and the detail here is very good and authentic...  a shame, and it will probably be removed in an update.
     
    Terminal 2 opened in November 1962 as the home of Northeast Airlines, Braniff International Airways, and Northwest Orient, and was last occupied by Delta Air Lines that have now moved to T4.
     

     
    Notable is that in October 2018, Cuomo released details of a $13 billion plan to rebuild passenger facilities and approaches to JFK Airport. Two all-new international terminals would be built. One of the terminals, a $7 billion, 2.8-million-square-foot (260-thousand-square-metre), 23-gate structure replacing Terminals 1, 2 and the vacant space of Terminal 3. It will also connect to Terminal 4, A new T6 will also replace the existing T7 and extend through T5, with seamless integration between T7 and T5. The streamlined layout will optimize the airside layout to allow for more efficient operations.
     
    Nimbus Simulations are still using throughout their sceneries, the now very old (Marginal) "Autogate" system and not the usual standard and more modern SAM system. The Marginal system however has had a lot of attention from Laminar and is now to a point also been amalgamated into the default of the X-Plane system...  
     
    It does (occasionally) work here, but now directly in X-Plane 12 through the "Ground Handing" feature (Shift+G), then press the "Toggle Jetway attachment" button.
     

     
    Triva...  Terminal 3, also known by the trademarked name "Worldport", which was an roofed saucer airport terminal built by Pan American World Airways (Pan Am) in 1960. It operated from May 24, 1960 to May 24, 2013, and was demolished in 2013–2014.
     

     

     
    Terminal 4
    Terminal 4 currently contains 48 gates in two concourses and functions as the hub for Delta Air Lines at JFK. Concourse A (gates A2–A12, A14–A17, A19, and A21) serves primarily Asian and some European airlines along with Delta Connection flights, while Concourse B primarily serves both domestic & international flights of Delta and its SkyTeam partners.
     
    Opened in early 2001 and designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, the 1.5-million-square-foot (140,000 m2) facility was built for $1.4 billion and replaced JFK's old International Arrivals Building (IAB), which opened in 1957 and was designed by the same architectural firm. The new construction incorporated a mezzanine-level AirTrain station, an expansive check-in hall, and a four-block-long retail area
     

     
    The Heathrow T5 style terminal facade is very evident here, and looks excellent in design and detail from Nimbus. Internal structures can be seen externally, but it is very basic inside. But it does the job well, for what it has to do.
     

     
    Left concourse B gates, right are the A gates
     

     
    Concourse A is a long snake of three separate concourses, in large (wide-body), medium (single aisle) and at the end the small (regional)
     

     
    Sections are of lovely aluminum cladding that look great in the sunlight, the dark glass is excellent as well. Detail and the visual aspect is extremely realistic from Nimbus. The lower (crowded) regional Walk-on/off with lo-rise gates are fantastic, shame the airbridges don't work connecting like with SAM?
     

     
    Airlines servicing Terminal 4 include SkyTeam carriers Aeromexico, Air Europa, China Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Kenya Airways, KLM, and Virgin Atlantic; Star Alliance carriers Air India, Avianca, Copa Airlines, and Singapore Airlines; and non-alliance carriers Caribbean Airlines, El Al, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue (late night international arrivals only), LATAM Brasil, LATAM Chile, LATAM Peru, Uzbekistan Airways, and WestJet. Like Terminal 1, the facility is Airbus A380-compatible with service currently provided by Emirates to Dubai; both non-stop and one-stop via Milan. These are mostly in the B Gates, which feels like a more modern addition than the A section.
     

     
    It's an 18-story air traffic control tower, iconic now, very Gerry Anderson, and it replaced the older square Heathrow style IAB tower in 1957. Detail of this centrally placed tower is excellent, really very authentic to the real tower set between the A and B concourses. You have gotta love this wing design and the lovely concrete facade. Internally it can be seen from the ramps for the excellent internal realism of the high floors.
     

     
    Terminal 5
    Terminal 5 opened in 2008 for JetBlue, now the manager and primary tenant of the building, as the base of its large JFK operating base. The terminal is also used by Cape Air. On November 12, 2014, JetBlue opened the International Arrivals Concourse (T5i) at the terminal. The new facility replaced the old TWA Flight Center which was opened in 1962 and closed in 2001 after its primary tenant, Trans World Airlines went out of business.
     
    The active Terminal 5 building has 29 gates: 1 through 12 and 14 through 30, with gates 25 through 30 handling international flights that are not pre-cleared (gates 28–30 opened in November 2014).
     

     
    The T5 terminal was redesigned by Gensler and constructed by Turner Construction, and was sited behind the preserved Eero Saarinen-designed terminal originally known as the TWA Flight Center, which is now connected to the new structure and is considered part of Terminal 5. The TWA Flight Center reopened as the TWA Hotel in May 2019 (the lower building below).
     
    TWA Flight Center, designed for Trans World Airlines by Eero Saarinen and Associates, was erected between 1959 and 1962; it operated as an air terminal until 2001. It has a prominent wing-shaped thin shell roof supported by four Y-shaped piers. There is an open three-level space with tall windows that originally offered views of departing and arriving jets.
     

     
    The Terminal 5 complex is well done, with excellent cladding and nice glass, again the highlight is the AirTrain corridors and walkways, but the TWA Flight Center is a bit lo-res, even clunky to the real life smooth images. Internally it only as good for looking inside and again not for exploring, a shame as it would have been a nice exercise to do so. Modeled and sitting outside in the forecourt is an old TWA Lockheed Constellation.
     

     
    Terminal 7
    Terminal 7 was designed by GMW Architects and built for BOAC and Air Canada in 1970. Formerly, the terminal was operated by British Airways, and was also the only airport terminal operated on US soil by a foreign carrier. British Airways operated Concorde here until 2003.
     
    Terminal 7 is now operated by a consortium of foreign carriers serving the building. Airlines operating out of Terminal 7 include Oneworld carrier Alaska Airlines, Star Alliance carriers Air Canada Express, All Nippon Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, and Scandinavian Airlines; SkyTeam carrier Aerolíneas Argentinas; and non-alliance carriers Aer Lingus, Condor, Icelandair, Kuwait Airways, Norse Atlantic Airways, and Sun Country Airlines.
     

     
    Well done here is the ageing facility, it looks worn and tired and is due to be demolished soon. As scenery by Nimbus it is excellent, but again the surroundings and detailing is quite low, not much fill and those lo-res textures are more a distraction than effective, but airside is well served with service vehicles and clutter.
     
    Terminal 8
    Terminal 8 is a major Oneworld hub with American operating its east coast hub from here. In 1999, American Airlines began an eight-year program to build the largest passenger terminal at JFK, designed by DMJM Aviation to replace both the old Terminal 8 and Terminal 9. The new terminal was built in four phases, which involved the construction of a new midfield concourse and the demolition of old Terminals 8 and 9. It was built in stages between 2005 and its official opening was in August 2007.
     
    Other Oneworld airlines that operate out of Terminal 8 include British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, and Royal Jordanian. Non-alliance carrier China Southern Airlines also uses the terminal.
     

     
    A more modern facility...  because it is. Terminal 8 is not olde world JFK, but the same sort of of modern terminal and island concourse like most major hub airports today. Again the modeling is first rate with excellent aluminum cladding and support frames. There is the same nice AirTrain connection, and lots of bustle and clutter on the airside, but very little on the landside.
     

     
    It is worth looking inside T8, as the internal detail is there, it's again (very) Lo-Res, but a lot of objects fill out the windows (externally), windows are still missing and even parts of the roof are open here also.
     

     
    Infrastucture
    In the central landside area is a Power Plant! The Kennedy International Airport Power Plant is a gas-fired cogeneration facility. Two LM6000 combustion turbines are routed to two heat recovery steam generators, which provide steam to one steam turbine and JFK’s thermal plant. The complex is very well replicated here, with the two generators that are very well modeled, visually the plant was required.
     

     
    It is a bit of a delusion. Because the carparks are empty on top and surrounds, so it looks like there isn't much fill, carpark clutter. But overall the 3d vehicle clutter here is totally excellent...  all the areas are well covered, more so in the outer ring areas.
     

     
    The JFK AirTrain loop is also excellent, and as noted fully animated with the system stopping at every station, the quality of the railcars are also well done. The animation is also very smooth on the tracks, with not any quick flicks or sudden movements.
     

     
    Animated vehicle traffic is good as well, not branded, and to be honest not a lot of vehicles moving around either, but enough to make the ring-roads buzzy and animated.
     

     
    Cargo
    Overall Cargo is a bit messy at JFK, as there are four to five different areas for cargo, then a lot of smaller ramps and terminals. Areas are not designated either, so it's tricky to find the one you want...  if you a hauler, you would need to study the charts before you get to JFK in where to go. The biggest cargo area is in the north that front's 13L/31R...  taxiway C.
     

     
    Operators here include FedEx, DHL and a large United States Postal Service facility...  the ARK animal receiving building is here as well...
     

     
    ...  notable is the now empty area in front of FedEx, here originally were the three huge dilapidated hangers that fronted 13L/31R, now gone, and another piece of JFK history removed.
     

     
    Threshold Rwy 13L is another large cargo area...  UPS and LAN Cargo are the main customers here.
     

     
    Korean Air, Delta Air Cargo and British Airways Cargo also have facilities, and all are represented...
     

     
    Maintenance has a few large Engineering facilities.... The one that stands out is the massive central JetBlue Engineering hangar, well done inside and outside with open doors. American Airlines also have a huge maintenance hanger as well, and both are excellent in the Nimbus scenery.
     

     
    Far Northwest is another large Cargo and Maintenance area...
     

     
    It is a very busy area, with the Port Authority Police Department at the head. The Worldwide Flight Services facility dominates, but the old United Airline Hangars (now F & E Maintenance) are present in the scenery as well. Notable mid-way is the General Aviation area, it's big with a load of Helicopter pads, but the GA Terminal is annoyingly very basic with poor Lo-Res textures, a shame as it is a very highly usable area for large GA aircraft and Private Jets..
     
     
     
    Finally there is a load of remote Car Rental agencies set out on the outer perimeter....  So it is a vast and wide set set scenery that goes a long way out to the Old Howard Beach suburb from the central terminal area....   and all of it is very well covered by Nimbus Studios.
     

     
    Ground Textures
    Looking closely at the ground textures they are very good, if even excellent. Being a classic airport, JFK has the usual patch and other cleaner new areas all over the field hard surfaces, it's well done here, better on close inspection, with heavily worn in rubber marks and even the slight marbles of the worn rolled rubber off line. Lineage is worn and tired as well, were it needs to be.
     

     
    I'll give the concrete ramps a tick, mostly for the rust stains and tire wear, but they are not deep in grunge like you would expect after decades of service.
     
    Between junction NA and NB are the taxiway bridges over the Van Wyck Expressway. The bridges are well done here in there 3d description, but the poor ortho (again here extremely lo-res) joins are a visual perturbation with poor alignment. No live traffic flows also makes the lower view not very realistic or active.
     

     
    The PBR reflective (wet) active textures and burnt-in ambient occlusion is excellent here, one of the big advantages of X-Plane 12. Your runways shine in the daylight, and all the texture surfaces come out, ice and snow effects are again first rate, and if you want a snowed in New York Airport, it won't be bettered here
     

     
    Excellent also is the spring style grass...  so many developers lately have been doing really shitty grass, but it's perfect here. And when it works on taxiing or landing, and great grass can create an all-around better realism. Airfield furniture, is very good like the realistic blast fences, but a lot of the field out-buildings are really laughable Lo-Res, this is 2024, not 2004.
     

     
    Cararsie Approach
    The official chart is noted as "PARKWAY VISUAL", but most aviators and bluffs call it the "Cararsie Approach". The Canarsie Visual was created in the 1970s.
    There are three airports very close to each other in the NY area (KJFK, John F Kennedy; KLGA, La Guardia; KEWR, Newark Liberty) A straight line in approach to 13L using the ILS wouldn’t make sense as it will intersect into the LGA airspace, making insufficient separation a problem. So any ILS approach into runway 13L it would not be possible...   the solution was a tight turn close to the 13L/13R Thresholds.
     

     
    Basically the approach starts at Rockaway Point, where you proceed to CRI or Cararsie VOR. There is a small island to the east straight ahead at Canarsie Pier. A heading of 041 should be flown from this point until Jamaica Bay. If you are landing runway 13R you should start your descent between the pier and Twin Stacks (near Jamaica Bay), but maintain altitude if you are heading for 13L. For 13R you now do the turn and head into the approach...  13L, when you start your descent, and then turn slightly in the direction of the Crossbay Parkway and Shore Parkway intersection, however stay slightly south of where the roads meet, until the Aqueduct Race Track (you can take the first part of the Shore Parkway east of the intersection as a landmark.) After that, alignment with the 13L runway, keep descending and land.
     
    The sight of huge heavies turning tight into 13L is folklore, and there are hundreds of videos to show you the approach, even Concorde used this approach, although the very tight 10,000ft length of 13L/31R of usable runway made it a exacting landing, but it is obviously worth your talent to do the "Cararsie Approach".
     
    The Cararsie Approach is easy(ish) in the daylight, but what about at night? the Port Authority created three sets of RAIL (Runway Alignment Indicator Lights) that guide you into the 13L Runway. These RAIL section lights have been very well reproduced here in the Nimbus JFK scenery, the last set however are positioned on a building in front of 13L, but to note, they are slightly to the right of the 13L Centreline and also angled away.
     

     
    Lighting
    All approach lighting is to the full ICAO brightness standards as required in X-Plane 12, so yes it is very, very good.
     

     
    Every developer has their own take and feel with X-Plane night lighting, very few get it perfect. Nimbus's approach is for wide spots on the ramps (very good), but has clear bright see-through windows with the Terminals and Concourses. Realistic, not really no, as you would rarely see this sort of opacity on tinted windows, but it is an interesting approach
     

     
    But the ramps are nice to arrive into, so from an airside perspective the Nimbus JFK works. The control tower floors are lit up, it looks great, but again the tower's operating floor should be in darkness for obvious reasons. Carpark lighting is horrible, and you can see directly into the TWA hotel rooms at night...  a view that looks really weird, and not very realistic either.
     

     
    The JetBlue Maintenance hangar is lovely at night, as is the landside road signage...  navigation signage is also very good and realistic.
     

     
    Framerate
    At the head of the Nimbus JFK review I noted framerate, so what is the verdict? Overall the scenery is very good to excellent considering the framerate footprint here. But those numbers come with compromises. For one there has been a considerable effort by Nimbus Designs to keep the framerate hit numbers down, but with the use of "Very" Low-Res ortho ground textures, and very, very Low-Res objects in the field. Its noticeable sadly, but these areas are not where it counts in using the airport scenery. Secondly you can't be too greedy with your graphic settings, mainly and obviously the "Texture Quality" slider, the Anti-Aliasing needs to be lower as well, again to the detriment of those Lo-Res textures. But in the main the quality is quite high, so usable. To fit in a New York skyline, heavy autogen and this very wide area spaced out airport with  millions of objects in the scenery, and to run it all with space to spare is a good result, Mostly in the past I have arrived in New York and my framerate is stuttering, usually badly, with the Nimbus JFK, it is however highly usable, so that is the main objective here, good considering the compromises. But would I also compromise a little more framerate for better and more realistic ortho textures, that is yes, a definite yes.
    _____________
    Summary
    Idlewild Airport was named after the Idlewild Beach Golf Course that it displaced in New York's east. Then following the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963, the airport was then renamed John F. Kennedy International Airport as a tribute to the 35th President of the United States and "Kennedy" is biggest gateway into America on the east coast.
     
    The last new scenery from Nimbus Studios was the excellent KIAD - Washington Dulles International Airport, of which is one of my favorites. Other major sceneries produced over a decade include, Chicago KORD, Orlando KMCO, Atlanta KATL and Miami KMIA, so Nimbus Studios are a very experienced and quality developer...  this is their latest release for X-Plane 12 only, in JFK -John Kennedy International
     
    Being a old world legacy airport, the 6th busiest in the United States, then JFK is massive in scale, as so is this scenery from Nimbus Studios, as it covers a large area, with a lot of details and objects. All the the current Terminals are covered here, but a disclaimer is required. JFK New York is currently undergoing a huge transition phase. Old Terminals 1, 2, 3 and 7 are being demolished, to be replaced by a new Terminal 1 and 6, but the older Terminals 1, 2 and 7 are still portrayed in this Nimbus scenery, as is Terminal's 4, 5 and 8 in their current configuration.
     
    Terminal and the massive infrastructure base here is extremely well modeled with nice cladding and glass, internal areas are basically modeled for external views only. But there is a compromise in Lo-Res textures for ground areas and a lot of the infrastructure, which is fair enough to cover the scale and the lighter framerate hit on your computer. Overall the scenery is excellent to the scale, so it is a worthy compromise. Other details include two Maintenance facilities for JetBlue and American Airlines, the Eero Saarinen-designed terminal originally known as the TWA Flight Center (but poor quality), TWA hotel and all the Cargo facilities and the iconic Control Tower is excellent. AirTrain animations and vehicle animations are also very good, and the JFK scenery uses the older style Marginal (updated) Jetway system.
     
    Field and apron textures are excellent as is the 3d grass. X-Plane 12 effects of Ice, snow and wet surfaces are also perfect, night-lighting is average, with these not very realistic see-through windows, but overall the apron and field lighting is very good. Final feature is the installation of the famous "Cararsie Approach" RAIL lighting, to practise your landing skills.
     
    Nimbus's JFK is huge sprawling scenery, but a very effective one, not only in the visual sense, but in the usability aspect as well, and that is the very important point here. As it works visually, and efficiently as well, that aspect alone makes this Nimbus JFK airport the best currently for the X-Plane 12 simulator...   Welcome to New York!
    __________________________
     

     
    The KJFK - New York - John F. Kennedy International Airport XP12 by Nimbus Studios is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store
     
    KJFK - New York - John F. Kennedy International Airport XP12
    Priced at US$29.95
     
    Requirements
    X-Plane 12 (not for XP11) Windows, Mac or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 1.3 GB Current version: 1.0 (January 14th 2024)   Installation
    Installation of KJFK New York XP12 is done via download of 1.33 Gb...
     
    There is only one file to insert into your X-Plane Custom Scenery Folder
    Nimbus Simulation - KJFK - V1.0 XP12  
    With a total installation size of 2.42Gb.
      There is one basic installation "READ ME" pdf (4 pages)
     

     
    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 12.09rc5 (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
    - New York City XP by Drzewiecki Design (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$36.00
    - Aircraft None -
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    Scenery Review by Stephen Dutton
    21st January 2024
    Copyright©2024: X-Plane Reviews
     
    (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
     

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