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Lord Vader

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    Lord Vader reacted to Stephen in Aircraft Review : Epic E1000 by Aerobask   
    Aircraft Review : Epic E1000 by Aerobask
    Welcome to the latest aircraft from Aerobask. This is the Epic E1000 and the largest composite aircraft done by this developer. With the aircraft is still undergoing development and certification expected in late (4Q) 2015. This is a powerful and currently the fastest single-engine turboprop yet built. It uses the 1200 HP Pratt & Whitney PT6A-67A engine installed on a very modern composite aerodynamic airframe to deliver true ‘jet-class’ performance for the price (US$2.75M) of an advanced turboprop. And performance is what this aircraft is all about.
    The Epic can do a cruise speed of 325 kn (374 mph; 602 km/h), climb at 4,000 ft/min (20 m/s), has a range of 1,650nmi (1,899 mi; 3,056 km) (1385 nmi at maximum cruise speed) and fly at an unbelievable ceiling altitude at 34,000 ft (10,000 m). If you want to go up there with a Boeing 737-800 maxing out behind you then "hey" be my guest...  but you have to admit those specifications are very impressive.
    So X-Plane Reviews headed out to the West Coast of France to Bordeaux–Mérignac Airport to look the aircraft over and see if that performance is real, and can this aircraft really fly alongside the light jets.
    Epic E1000 by Aerobask
    Many users are now very familiar with Aerobask's design philosophy. Aircraft like the Twin Star DA-42, Pipistrel Panthera and the Lancair Legacy FG are all very composite designs and significant new generation aircraft. And the Epic E1000 certainly follows on in that vein, the only slight difference is this is not a light spec aircraft here, but a more larger General Aviation/Executive design. And for molding those smooth sleek almost dolphin shaped designs you won't find any one who can do this better. The Epic is one nice looking aircraft.
    These aircraft are very hard to dissect, because they are not built around a frame or modules, but are formed as a one piece moldings with the smaller components making up the whole. So they can be unnaturally smooth and very hard to make interesting. Aerobask is one developer however who can bring these aircraft to some distinction, so the design here is excellent. The aircraft its on a tri-cycle landing gear and they are quite tall and sits the aircraft well off the ground, the rear wheels are a trailing design and very well designed here. Externally the aircraft is excellent and comes in High-Res textures of 4K.
    There is no window tab menus, but a menu panel in the center of the panel that gives you various options internally and externally. Top row is the static elements (tags, chocks and covers) and a portable GPU (Ground Power Unit) which is very nice. Third button along is the "FPS Boost" which helps in your framerate if you are marginal by removing the seats and other various no-essential item. I found the aircraft very framerate friendly, overly so...  So your computer would have to be pretty average to have to use this.
    Second row of buttons covers the panel in left and right yokes removal and the excellent window and panel reflections, bottom row single button is to open or close the single rear passenger door.
    The panel is dominated by two left and right Garmin G900 Primary Flight Display (PFD) displays, the center display (MFD) is another on the surface an G900 display but here it is a modified X-Plane GNS530 unit instead. Note these G900's are only an accurate representation of a real G900, and not an exact replica of the instrument but they are very good never the less for that.
    Lower panels include the main switch gear on the right (yoke removed) center is an excellent MEGGiTT autopilot and Garmin GMA350 radio unit, with below a small pedestal unit with a throttle, propeller (feather) and condition levers (throttle has power "Max/Idle" settings and a "Beta" reverse thrust setting). The cockpit, panel and rear cabin lighting adjustment knobs? are very small and hard to see behind the levers. Left lower panel is just the climate and oxygen controls.
    The aircraft has a unique way of switching on the various systems...  the three rows of buttons are set out to be used at the various points of getting the aircraft ready for flight and in order. Top row is the "Pre-Start" Second row is the "Pre-Taxi" and the lower row is the "Systems". The Pre-Start includes the batteries, fuel pumps and igniter and starter gen settings.
    This will power up the G900 screens, but not the central display. For that you need to switch on the avionics master on the second row...  and on the right "Lighting" panel the "Panel" button. Other "lighting" panel items include Ice (wing light) Land and Taxi  lights, strobe and Navigation lights. Another lower button panel is your "Ice" buttons for de-icing boots, the propeller heat, the window heat, the inertial separator, and the pitot heat.
    Modern flight displays are quite complex and menu driven. And you have a lot going on in this display, and there is no doubt this is the best G900/G1000 style display in X-Plane at the moment.
    There is a side panel Engine Information System (EIS) on the left within the display, and this can be switched off to give you more visual space to the main flight instruments that are all artificial horizon, speed and altitude tapes, bank roll scale and roll pointer and HSI (horizontal situation indicator) or heading pointer all in one. You have also a "setup" menu to do more finer settings under the "PFD" menu button. Here you can set your "Audio Alert" in a women's voice that you are doing something wrong. Baro HPA/IHNG setting, Reflections (screens), TEMP units in ºC or ºF, Decision Height and a Overtorque limiter which is simulated.
    You can test all the systems by pressing TEST under "alerts" and in the sidebar there are the main ENGINE displays of Torque (TRQ), Temperature (ITT), Propeller RPM (NP), power (NG), fuel flow (FF), and oil pressure & temperature and cabin pressure, and a fuel quantity overview.
    Pressing SYSTM information about electrical amps & volts (generator, battery, bus 1 and 2) and the FUEL for fuel pressure, fuel quantity, fuel remaining, fuel used, estimated endurance and estimated range.
    Radio VOR1/VOR2 and COMM tuning is set out at the top of the display and the tuning is done via the side knobs and switching them over via the Push 1-2 button. Transponder XPDR is set via the menu buttons on the XPDR page.
    The standard GNS530 feels a big large expanded for its central role and even the pop out screen is smaller than the installed one? The knobs and buttons are slightly different as well and so if you want to save time the pop out is sometimes quicker to use. But you do have all that great GPS functionality available to you.
    You also have a built in to the GNS GPS both the Checklist and Emergency Checklist as well, for...   Emergencies.
    Flying the Epic E1000
    My flight was a loop around the southern western areas of France. In leaving Bordeaux to Biarritz then skirting the Pyrenees in going inland to Pau and then looping back again to Bordeaux....   A 265nm flight to nowhere!
    Flightplan in and booked (sorry activated) and your ready to start the engine...   Propeller and condition levers up (no propeller pitch change?) Press the button, hold and wait and soon the engine whines up and into action.  Set your ALT (alternator), Fuel (auto) and if required the manual tank selection is on the floor under the pedestal. and lower SYSTM's on in Auto-Pilot, Trim, Air Pressure, Hi (Air Pressure), EMER (Air Pressure).
    Sounds in starting, start with the starter click and the power start whine and then running gives you a great rumble. Great sounds if you have a very good sound system hooked up to your simulator (yes I do). The engine soon settles into its warm up pattern and your ready to go so the whole startup process is simulated. The propeller when running is just a flat disk which is disappointing, but looks very good from the cockpit. You need to pull the COND lever back to idle to taxi or if not your will take out a bit of the scenery, as the aircraft will shoot off the line. Even then I found the idle position still a bit too fast when taxiing. Turn tight and the front wheel does not turn enough into the radius either?.
    When lined up on the runway don't forget to put the COND lever back into Flight mode and then power up...  This is a very powerful single engined aircraft and so the asymmetrical thrust is really quite strong so you need to be prepared for the power. Departure is via RWY05 which is the wrong way to my flightplan, but the wind direction changed so I will have to circuit LFBD before I pick up my plan on the western side.
    At 130kts I do a slight rotate and then a full pitch to 2000fpm to climb away from the airfield...  and yes this aircraft can climb. You tend to feel into the aircraft and find its balance which is very good and let the speed rise, gear up which is very well animated by Aerobask and I'm in the turn to find the circuit. I'm going to 7500ft at first to let the aircraft settle down and build more speed for the climb to 22,500ft.
    The MEGGiTT autopilot is highly impressive. Easy to use and to set, in you just select your altitude and then press the UP or DN buttons to select your rate of climb. The aircraft will easily handle 2000fpm, but watch your speed because the aircraft can't keep that pace up all the way, so I came back to 12000fpm and then 900fpm and then 500fpm to keep the speed moving in a positive direction. And watch your air pressure is working as if not it will tell you that you need to pressurize the aircraft.
    And soon you are getting mighty high for a small aircraft like this...  and you can get a lot further up than this. 
    The aircraft is nice and fast in the air, but I wouldn't call it jet like, as it is too noisy for that...  The sounds however are amazingly good, I turned my speakers up and just loved that turbine running hard in front of me.
    You can use the GPS to check your route and position, and note the excellent on the far left of the pilot's display the back-up altimeter and artificial horizon. Great vertical display and routing information is well built into the GPS unit.
    I will profess though that I never found the pilots position really comfortable? the distance between the seats and the display panels is quite small in viewing terms, and those panels are very large when you are this close-up to them. On the X-Plane "Rendering Settings" Menu I set the lateral view to 075.00 degrees to give me more of a better viewing angle, although Aerobask noted that 65º is better but I really needed more than that...

    And to a point this worked quite well, but move even slightly back and the seat quickly covered the view. Many would like this small cocoon of an area to work in but I found it a little restricting, and the high sloping center glare shield meant the view forward was quite small as well and you had to lift yourself higher to look over the panel, I found the best view out was left and down which was far better and good for approaches.
    You are not used to coming down from a high altitude with a lighter aircraft like this, so you have plan your descent point at a far longer position than usual when flying small aircraft. In this case the Epic is like a light jet in descent and speed points. Note the reflections which are excellent for realism.
    Your speed control is very good, you can easily match (with the throttle) the right speed you need (even slow). I could easily balance the aircraft very nicely at 160knt and then down to 140knts when the descent was completed to start the circuit for the approach, and the aircraft gives you confidence, the power on tap allows the two stage flaps (noted as TO - Takeoff  and LANDING - Landing) is a little simplistic but effective in operation.
    On this flight I used the ILS approach system and tuned the airspeed back to around 100knts for landing, this is great but watch out for the drop as X-Plane cuts you off the beam, you are still quite high and so you are suddenly free and the aircraft will slightly wobble. you need to give the speed a little nudge upwards to keep that descent clean, flare is good, but this stick undercarriage does not have as enough give as you would like, but get the flare right and it is not a problem.
    The aircraft uses the "Beta" toggle function to reverse the propeller pitch for reverse thrust. This means you get throttle control by using the "toggle" reverse and not the "full reverse" selection. In other words, hit the toggle key or button (like you do to open the reverser doors on the heavy jets) and the aircraft goes into beta mode and throttle up the reverse thrust you require, when done throttle back to idle and re-click your toggle to resume normal throttle control. It works here very well, as the rev thrust power is powerful. Don't forget to set your COND lever back to ground idle even if the women's alert voice is complaining about your engine's condition...
    I flew the Epic E1000 again to see what it was like in the twilight...  but first some nice pretty pictures!
    The aircraft inside and out looks very nice in the softer light, It is very nice to fly and look at these points of a time and a place.
    The idea is to make these large displays workable in a dark cockpit, you can certainly adjust the display brightness via those small knobs behind the throttle lever, or even for a quicker solution click the "panel" lighting "off" on the lighting panel.
    The lighting is not focus, focused in the sense of being very spot like, but just an overall light darker or lighter. It is very adjustable in that way. And you can have the cockpit really bright if you want to.
    HDR off                                                                                       HDR on
    When HDR is on the lighting is more slightly focused than with HDR off, In fact the differences are not that overall significant to switch over to HDR if you don't require the need.
    External lighting is fine but not anything overwhelming. You have a left wing light to check for ice, and the standard beacon, nav and nice strobe lights. The landing lights are good but very spread out on each wing tip, so there is slight dullness between them and the central taxi light, but overall they are all you need. In the cabin there is the modern touch of great LED strip lighting.
    There are nine liveries in a few real aircraft, a few fictional and a commercial in Somma Aviation. Default is N44GB which is available in hi-res and low-res. All the liveries are design by a quality artist in XFlyer.

    Two more are available for download from Aerobask's site..
    If you liked any other Aerobask aircraft (and who doesn't) then the Epic E1000 will fit very nicely in your hangar. This is another very fine aircraft and brilliantly done in all context by this very forward looking developer. Design wise and execution it is very good.
    Sounds are glorious and detailed if you have a great sound system, they certainly add to the overall experience. It is certainaly a nice aircraft to fly and the greatest feat is that you can for a GA/Executive aircraft fly over a high mountain range like the European Alps than around them. It is not a light jet or a jet in that capacity, as good as it is, but it is an outstanding small fast point to point light aircraft. Very modern and totally up to date.
    Negatives, not many really. I'm not crazy about the propeller in flight from the side, as it has no pitch adjustment and is razor thin, inside though it is very realistic so visually it is a tradeoff. It is tight in there in the control seat but the real aircraft could be the same? no baggage door either, but it looks like the real aircraft does not have one either, suitcases on your laps I suppose. The replacement center display with the GNS530 is very clever and very well intergrated and highly functional, but feels quite large and over-sized in your view point.
    Frame-rate is very good, it never caused me any problems, but if you have your texture resolution set (very high) then the numbers are above 1000gb or a 1gb of your graphic cards ability so you would need a 1gb card or higher. HDR on was no issues.
    Overall at that price the aircraft is a great investment, well done and a very much larger sized aircraft than before from Aerobask, like I noted if you like Aerobask's other aircraft you will really like this one...  It is the best yet from Aerobask.

    The Epic E1000 by Aerobask is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here :
    EPIC E1000 
    priced at only US$23.95
    Installation : Download is 384.20mb that is unzipped to 454.40mb (all liveries) to your X-Plane - "General Aviation" Folder.
    Documents : Great detailed manual and tutorial with excellent information on how to use the aircraft. Performance tables and checklists. A real detailed instruction sheet of the PT6A Engine. There are camera presets, but I found they interfered with the X-Plane default.

    Windows, MAC or Linux
    X-Plane 10.35 or higher - 32 and 64 bit compatible. (X-Plane 9 not supported)
    1.5 GB VRAM Video Card Recommended
    Version 1.1.5 (9th April 2015)
    Version 1.1.5
    There has been a slight upgrade to the E1000 to version 1.1.5
    New sounds : rolling runway, touchdown & skid dry.
    Fix minor PFD bug (position).
    Fix knob CRS-BARO : CDI course setting is more accurate now.
    Fix turn bank indicator.
    Updated manuals & checklist
    Go to the X-plane.OrgStore for the 1.1.5 update and to your account to download, but if you just want the updated manuals and checklist them go to Aerobask's site
        High quality 3D model with High-Res texture 4K, specular and normal mapping.
        Fully functional Virtual 3D cockpit.
        EFIS including the new GNS (by Laminar Research), checklists (Normal/Emergency), Weather radar, TCAS, setup page and vocal alerts.
        EIS, including 3 pages : Engine, System and Fuel
        Fully animated : door, flight controls, canopy, gear, all levers
        Panoramic windshield with reflections
        Many custom sounds : engine, gear, flaps, door, vocal alert, callout
        Liveries : more 8 different paint schemes designed by XFlyer
        Ice effects (windshield and wings)
        Propeller disc effect
        Ground Power Unit, flags and wheel chocks
        Toggle yoke visibility left and right
    Simulated systems
        Start procedure - fuel system (automatic balance) - taxiing with beta mode - anti ice system - Pusher - Autopilot - Pressurization - Overtorque limiter
    Support forum for the Epic E1000
    Review by Stephen Dutton
    11th April 2015 (updated)
    Copyright©2015: X-Plane Reviews
    Review System Specifications:
    Computer System:     
    - 2.66 Ghz Intel Core i5 iMac 27”
    - 9 Gb 1067 Mhz DDR3
    - ATI Radeon HD 6970M 2048 mb
    - Seagate 256gb SSD 
    - Mac OS Yosemite 10.10.1
    - X-Plane 10 Global ver 10.35 (final)
    - Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick and Throttle
    - Bose - Soundlink Mini
    - LFBD - Bordeaux-Merignac (France) - by XPFR : Scenery for X-Plane (XPFR : Scenery) Free

  2. Like
    Lord Vader reacted to Wycliffe in Aircraft Review : FlightFactor Boeing 757RR-200   
    Stephen Dutton has done a fantastic review of this superb aircraft and only work has prevented me from doing a review on this beautiful aircraft. Flightfactor have in my opinion raised the bar so high now in Xplane that the next step up is going to be so hard that it really is gong to take some doing. 
    Roman and Phillip have excelled themselves and all the lessons learned on the Triple 7 have been put to good use here and have allowed them to make incredible strides forward. We all know this is the one that a lot of people have been waiting for this one and I tell you now this is it. 
    It is very hard to pick fault and I think I might have to do a lot of flying to see what if anything needs adjusting. I have one comment and that is the passenger bus, You can't see the wheels lol. 
    I have been a simmer for about 20 years and I never thought I would see this level of complexity in a desktop simulator but here we are. Simmers across the world keep talking about PMDG and Xplane, well Mr Randazzo you will need to pull your socks up, there is a new kid on the block and they have again knocked you out of the park.
    Well Done Phillip and Roman for putting to gether an outstanding world class team for the full development of this aircraft we all look forward to the next one, but first take a day or two off and have a beer.
  3. Like
    Lord Vader reacted to Stephen in X-Plane Year Review 2014 and Welcoming in 2015.   
    X-Plane Year Review 2014 and Welcoming in 2015.
    Well that was 2014? What did you think of it? The usual, the different or just forget the whole year happened. Well it was different in a unusual way in that it wasn't filled with the usual things that turn the simulator upside down. My view it was quite a subdued year in a way, but a lot still happened and a lot changed. But I did feel this time last year that X-Plane needed a more stable settling period to consolidate its main base and in a big way that did happen. The word "consolidate" is the key point here, and in that context for X-Plane it was a very good year.
    Review 2014
    The year started off with loads and just loads of scenery released, The excellent LEVC - Valencia from DAI-Media started it all off and I loved this Spanish scenery. Tom Curtis had another great year with KDEN - Denver and big updates to his great packages "Final Frontier" and "Seattle - Boeing Country" and his "Las Vegas "Glitter Gulch" through out the year had a touch more magic as well. Another good solid year from Tom. Santiago Butnaru was another who gave a lot of prolific scenery releases this year with KBUF (Buffalo-Niagara) which is underrated, KFLL - Fort Lauderdale and last week KEWR - Newark. Two stood out in CZST Stewart by beti-x and EIDW - Dublin by Aerosoft were both brilliant but in their very different ways, But as scenery goes it was a really good year, a lot of really great freeware and many new faces having a go at doing some work with a lot of the usual suspects delivering outstanding work. Two points I will highlight here in the return of ISDG with a bang with Steve K and YMML - Melbourne and the simply amazing "tdg"and If one person has single-handedly changed our scenery base it is tdg. I really loved the recently released "Winter_Package" of winter scenery from Albert (xflyer) who is the person that creates the default Laminar Research autogen art...  simply amazing, and Laminar has also made hints it could be included in the base simulator in a start of the seasons feature, well bring that on. Another great late in the year release is the v3 terrain files from Alpilotx, another step up in high-quality detail, but a huge just under 100gb download for the lot (It takes two days alone if you want it all downloaded now) but it does now also include Australia. I earlier had my doubts about the Laminar Research default airport scenery system, but it works very well and not as intrusive as I expected, the updated WED 1.30 is also now very, very good.
    Overall the scenery aspect came along in heaps and bounds this year, 2014 was a really good year for scenery and I am getting really very impressed by a lot of the images coming out of the simulator. Not perfect by a long shot, but a big and definite step forward and X-Plane is finally fixing its biggest blackhole.
    Laminar Research felt like it was being diverted by another presence in 2014 and that turned out to be fact in most of the development time of the year went into an upgrade of LR's other simulator business in mobile games or X-Plane 10 MOBILE for iPhone or iPad. They note that these products help the desktop version and vice-versa, and you can't argue with that philosophy, and the launch of X-Plane 10 on STEAM has again shown that LR is aiming lately at the gamer crowd for more business and users, So is X-Plane a game or a simulator? will the roads narrow as the products come closer aligned? I still see a big difference flying on my desktop to using X-Plane on my iPad (you can however fly around the room making loud aircraft noises with your steering iPad), but my only really big fun and main focus is my addictive personality of minecraft proportions of collecting and building my huge X-Plane scenery world and flying around it.
    One major (and only) X-Plane release for the desktop simulator form was version or v10.30 in a mid-year release in June. But it was a beauty, and its biggest feature was how well rounded it was when it was released. It didn't feel like a beta and had no really big hidden nasties, it was also brilliant from day one and a really good well rounded product. Laminar noted that they had taken their time to do this one and it showed, great quality and great features. The standout was the inclusion of an updated GARMIN 430/530 gps which was just sensational in design and operation. Created by Philipp Münzel my personal "Person of the Year" in 2013, in he had been recruited by LR to do development work directly for LR in 2014 and that took Philipp out of the daily limelight, but his brilliance was once again shown in a great feature and also gave the simulator another big push forward. He will be there for 2015, so expect more great things from him, Chris and Guru in the next year.
    Again v10.30 provided a very good consolidation of the desktop simulator, it refined and changed it into a more complete application that was more reliable and even smooth. There was a few missing features that had been promised like a wider visual distance that is really (really) showing now its time and age in the simulator these days and there was still no update to the average autocratic ATC system that is so badly required to make X-Plane 10 deliver on its promised features, no better water shading or cultures either, but maybe in 2015 a few of these changes will finally grace our screens.
    I noted in last years 2013 review that this year would be the last year for X-Plane9, that has come to pass as most developers now don't issue X-Plane9 versions with their releases, the biggest is of course Carenado and in that the v3/10.30 upgrade was completely X-Plane10 and no new product from either Carenado or Alabeo would in the future will be in X-Plane9. If you keep X-Plane9 into 2015, you are going to find it very slim pickings indeed for (payware) aircraft and a lot of quality scenery for that simulator version. X-Plane has now moved a long, long way even from its own X-Plane10 release version, in to a point it is now barely recognisable from its own small time beginnings.
    The biggest satisfaction for me in 2014 was the emergence of more developers that were willing to put their talent on the line and build payware. The gap from freeware to payware is simply massive, you have to be good not only in one area but many or create a stable team to produce good aircraft. It is not easy in covering this gap, as even the very best have had their moments this year. Once you cross that line and ask for payment, you are then required to deliver in every area, but the rewards are also very good if you can pull the off the project. X-Plane now requires extremely high quality, no half-measures can pass the line and it is a tough line, but it is still very highly required. In that talent and products build the simulator and the good news is X-Plane uses will pay for quality products, and that is a very good thing. As it goes both ways in that the users get great product and the developers will keep producing great product to satisfy the need. So both the users and the developers both benefit...  In that area X-plane has crossed that invisible line.
    But quality was there even if at first the fine-tuning points are not. So basically the work was always very good, but the real work and talent is in that very last 5% to get that tuning and the quality first rate. Stephane Buon of Aerobask was a real talent this year in not only turning out interesting modern like the Lancair Legacy FG aircraft but refitting out his older work to the 10.30 requirements, and with a flourish even finished off the year with an amazing glider (Antares 20E). The X-Trident team with their amazing Bell - 412 was another great intro. X-Crafts produced his ERJ-195ER that really was a great start in quality payware and Jetsim gave us an Airbus A330-300 with CRT instruments. MLADG gave us some WW2 German fighter experience with the Me 262. And Colimata's Mig-29 blew me away, and on a modern twist AoA Simulations released just lately their F-35B Lighting ll.
    But the old hand operators still delivered as well. As a group they delivered very deep immersion simulation with always new tricks to get your attention. Reviewing these challenging deep system aircraft is taking longer and longer to deliver your verdict, as you have so much ground to cover. Many need not a week now but weeks to understand and get the very best from and to understand how to fly them to their best performance. Peter's (Hager) Aircraft started off the year with his 3d A320/A321 series, but I was simply a non-starter from the very start. The aircraft no matter how much I twisted my settings could they run on my computer, frame rate was always in the low single figures and I simply had to give up any chance of giving them a fair review. It was the first time I had actually gave up and moved on, something I simply don't like to do. I tried again later in the year with the same results. JARDesign did a few updates till mid-year to his A320 but then left it to focus on the A330. SSG - Supercritical Simulations Group started the year with a bang in the B748i which was a bit raw, but steady and quality time in development brought this aircraft (And the just released Freighter version) up to a very high standard and they now both now sit in that high point quality area. Jack and Joe from FlyJSim did not disappoint with their excellent Boeing 732, another really great simulation and a great companion in your hanger with the B727 Series.
    FlightFactor also was busy with great upgrades (including engine options) to both their Boeing 777 and 757 series aircraft, and later in the year the release of the amazing A350-900 with a menu system that is just so unique and clever. It had QPAC airbus systems as well, and the very best in airbus laws and protections that made it something really special to fly. It was delayed and frustrated by a very stubborn bug for Mac users? Not a major issue in context, but it simply refused to be hunted down and fixed, as a beta tester on the A350 I spent hours (and hours) doing loops in trying to focus it down, but it still remained elusive. It will in time be usually something very simple that fixes it, but that is not to take away the achievement this aircraft is to X-Plane's quality and position in flight simulation, and a pro version of the A350 is still coming.
    Hydroz and Khamsim brought out their excellent HU-16 Albatross that was a great aircraft to get your head around, and Khamsin also updated his Mitchell. And I liked the old B-29 from Virtavia and Dawson Designs, strange to fly but very rewarding if you are willing to put in the effort.
    Carenado had again a huge year with constant updates right through the range and great releases. Putting the updated GNS 10.30 gps into Carenado aircraft was always going to brilliant, and it was. And Carenado also created a unique manipulator system that could change the way we operate knobs and switches in the simulator. great for scroll mouse users, but I found it a bit strange with my one puck mouse. In aircraft it started with the PA-38 Tomahawk, which i simply loved as it was simply a great aircraft to fly. Then came the brilliant B200 King Air, a monster of an aircraft that was then even later over shadowed by the even bigger and more monstrous KIng Air in the 1900D that was just the ultimate King Air you can ever get in simulation. Released in-between these two giants was the Piper PA-46 Malibu and the excellent CT206H Turbo Stationair, which is really the very best single-upper wing aircraft in X-Plane bar none. So for Carenado it was a just that a huge year, and great simulation.
    Helicopters did exceptionally well as well. You don't get a huge amount of releases in the rotary world. But the quality is out of this world, and 2014 did not disappoint. DMO started it out with a really great update to the S92, now a major player and a great big aircraft to fly. Then came the Bell 407 by Dreamfoil Creations which is quite possibly the very best helicopter ever created for X-Plane, it was simply in every area sensational. But my overall favorite was the B412 Huey from X-Trident. It is still the most addictive aircraft I have ever flown in X-Plane... When you are still flying at 4am in the morning and still wanting to have another go after five hours of flying already means this aircraft totally has your guts and heart at its controls. I now fear going near it as I know I will lose hours or a day if I do so and reviews are then left hanging half done. It is a total love/hate relationship, but the love for the B412 will always win me over.
    None expected shows for the year are also to be noted. The IXEG 737 classic is still going into another year of development. Real 733's are now going to the graveyard in big numbers and X-Plane still hasn't had any hours behind the controls of one of them, it is now promised before next Christmas...  2015! But still well worth the wait (ing). The EADT x737 3d cockpit aircraft was a no show as well, but the update images show an amazing experience when it does arrive. maybe 2015 will finally be the year of the B737?  I doubt the PMDG B737 will join the queue, there was a lot of noise from PMDG in the middle of the year referring to X-Plane and then nothing? So PMDG is slowly going into the "I'll believe it when I see it" zone. JARdesign didn't release his A332 either, but I doubt it is very far away in early 2015.
    An area I am interested in is the DC-9/MD-80, There was a great freeware release from Roger2009, but three projects were announced and going into 2015 only one in "Rotate's" MD-80 is still ongoing, but what an aircraft this is. If one aircraft should be in your hanger in 2015, it will be or should be this one...  looks simply brilliant.
    Going into 2015 and news of new work is very thin on the ground. Developers are holding their cards closer to their chests these days. But they are all out there work and creating...  we will just have to wait and see what 2015 brings us.
    To wrap up this review of 2014 and the year, I will now list my Best of the Year 2014:

    Best Aircraft : FlightFactor aero A350-900
    Late in the year but an excellent, fully featured and clever aircraft.
    Honorable Mention : X Crafts ERJ-195LR,
    A great debut aircraft and expect great designs from this designer.

    Best Classic Aircraft : Boeing 737-200 Series - FlyJSim
    As good as the B727 series, but smaller.
    Honorable Mention : Grumman HU-16 Albatross
    Really different and versatile aircraft, loved it.

    Best General Aviation Aircraft : Carenado Beechcraft 1900D King Air
    Just simply brilliant...  thats it.
    Honorable Mention : Any Aerobask aircraft
    Very modern and very different, and now a glider as well

    Best Helicopter : Bell 407 by Dreamfoil Creations/Bell 412 X-Trident
    Both totally brilliant and very hard to split
    By design it is the B407, but the B412 totally won my heart.

    Best Scenery : CZST - Stewart by beti-x and EIDW - Dublin by Aerosoft
    Both really really good scenery, but EIDW is more usable and functional for everyday use.
    Honorable Mention : Tom Curtis
    His work throughout 2014 was just excellent again in scale and detail.

    Person of the Year 2014 : tdg (scenery)
    Airport by airport and a release sometimes daily...  tdg is slowly changing the face of X-Plane Airports. His facade work is simply overwhelming and sensational, his detailing is superb. How can he do all that work? and in a single day?
    Honorable Mentions : Philipp Münzel and Daniel Klaue
    Again Phillipp has touched X-Plane with his brilliance. The GARMIN 430/530 gps in X-Plane 10.30 is another master work and Daniel drives X-Plane forward with his brilliance in so many areas that you don't see...  but use all the time.

    Best Plugin : SkyMaxx Pro
    Real clouds and real weather.
    Honorable Mention : TugMaster - JARDesign
    Finally a really decent pushback truck(s)

    Best Moment of the year 2014 : Using the GNS 430/530 GPS for the first time.

    Worst Moment of the Year 2014 : Monday 22nd December 2014?
    Biggest distraction of 2014 : The none shows that promised us an announcement that never came.

    Personal Favorites of 2013 : The Bell 412, CT206H Turbo Stationair, 1900D Carenado King Air, B200 King Air in fact any King Air? and the A350-900 and finally flying the CRJ-200 correctly (It is a very long story)
    So that was 2014... So was it a good year or a great year. Certainly X-Plane grew and even passed the significant milestone of 300,000 users on the X-Plane.org, many will of course churn over and leave, but many are also liking what they are seeing and are joining us and most importantly are contributing to the cause. So we grew as a simulator, a lot and that is a nice feeling. The X-Plane.Org shop was overhauled and ready for 2015. A very difficult and long task, but well worth the effort. So in many ways X-Plane is in great shape for 2015 and another big year in simulation.
    I will be back with more and a better X-Plane Reviews in 2015, but at this point I'm not sure exactly when I will be actually able to restart? The date above of 22nd December 2014 was a day of "oh hell" as my trusty iMac went into meltdown and totally blew out its graphic chip?, Yes its true, X-Plane actually blew my graphic chip to pieces and that is how hard I have pushed it this year... In fact I am proud to say "I ran X-Plane so hard I blew my computer up!" It works but only in "Slow" mode which means no X-Plane for me at all and I am in denial. When I can get it fixed depends on when the Australian workforce decides to come back from its annual holidays and I can get the parts. Hopefully in the very early days in January 2015.
    I have to thank Joe Charman for his huge contribution this past year, thanks Joe and to all the incredible developers that provide me with their work and and valuable information to make these reviews work and happen. I am as always in awe in what they do. Finally to Nicolas Taureau and the backing of the guys of the X-Plane.Org that keeps the site running smoothly and give great advice and assistance.
    So all X-Plane flyers, have a great Christmas and a Happy New Year 2015!...  more to come and soon!
    "Anyone know of any good books to read, while I get my computer fixed?"
    Stephen Dutton
    Copyright©2014: X-Plane Reviews
  4. Like
    Lord Vader reacted to Stephen in Maxx-XP : SkyMAXX Pro - A new Cloud system for X-Plane10!   
    John Spahn from Maxx-XP has announced the SkyMaxx Pro of which is a new cloud engine for X-Plane10. 

    The SkyMaxx pro is not an add-on that just over-rides the default X-Plane10 weather, but it is integrated into the actual weather component that you use everyday now including METAR settings.  Also you will be able to use the system's own custom settings.

    The system allows for clouds to move and rise with the noted wind speed and temperatures and the dreaded grey blackout is also banished. Crepuscular Rays will also shine out behind from behind clouds and move with your point of view. All clouds are full 3d in effect - and is noted to be frame-rate friendly and the performance is configurable!
    Maxx-XP has released a promo-video of the system in its beta form...

    As the new SkyMaxx-Pro is interconnected within the main X-Plane programming it requires changes that will be part of the beta 10.30 cycle release and so the actual release of the SkyMaxx Pro will be sometime within the beta 10.30 program period.
    More Information can be found at the new SkyMAXX site : skymaxx-extreme
    Development thread is here : SkyMAXX Pro
    Stephen Dutton
    14th August 2013
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