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  1. NEWS! - X-Plane 12... Final day at the old price! From the 1st of November 2023, X-Plane 12 with increase it's base price to US$79.99 from the current US$59.99. This price has been current for the Simulator for over a decade, so with all the extra features and detail, it should be priced higher in the category. X-PlanrReviews have said that X-Plane was too cheap for years, not for inflation, but to put more resources into the Simulator. Which is the said reason for the price change in the announcement from Laminar Research, the developers of the Simulator. You purchase is investing in the Simulator's future. Being in Australia, this notice gives you an extra 12 hours to purchase at the old price, so be quick if you want to upgrade from X-Plane 11... even X-Plane 10? (Yes we know you are out there). X-Plane 12 features include Photometric Lighting Engine Light brightness, intensity, spread, and more – all computed in real time with the laws of physics. 3D Water Gorgeous global water rendering, complete with wave height controls and floatplane interaction based on feedback from expert pilots. Seasonal Effects Tree color and leaf coverage vary to show season – snow accumulates, too! Tropical Water Colors Gorgeous, geographically-aware water colors. 3D Forests and Vegetation Large variety of 3D trees with variation of species, size, and seasonal effects. They even sway in the wind. Ambient Sounds The entire world now comes to life with FMOD sound – birds in the forest, cars in the cities and of course, ground service vehicles. And don't forget the basic physics Math and Physics Make the Difference "Our commitment to realism in the X-Plane flight simulator starts with first principle physics, a mountain of math, and decades of real-world flight experience. Our development team has spent 30+ years refining the rendering engine and mechanics for a blisteringly authentic flight experience. You’re in complete control inside the cockpit: fly any aircraft, anywhere in the world, in any type of weather conditions. We’ll provide an ultra-realistic combination of lift, drag, wind, turbulence, scenery, flight controls, and more. Feel every force acting on every piece of the aircraft in real-time. It’s something you can’t replicate in a free flight simulator or even the most cinematic airplane games." X-Plane 12 runs on four platforms including; Mac, Windows, Linux and mobile platforms. X-Plane 12 Minimum Requirements CPU: Intel Core i3, i5, i7, or i9 CPU with 4 or more cores, or AMD Ryzen 3, 5, 7 or 9. (Those with other CPUs should try the demo before purchasing.) Memory: 8 GB RAM Video Card: a Vulkan 1.3-capable video card from NVIDIA or AMD with at least 2 GB VRAM If your system is borderline, we encourage you to try the demo first. The full version of the simulator will perform exactly the same as the demo—neither better nor worse. X-Plane 12 Recommended Requirements CPU: Intel Core i5 8600k or Ryzen 5 3500 or better, or Apple Silicon Memory: 16-24 GB RAM or more Video Card: a DirectX 12-capable video card from NVIDIA or AMD with at least 4 GB VRAM (GeForce GTX 1070 or better, or similar from AMD) Supported Video Cards: NVIDIA: NVIDIA GeForce 900 or newer, driver version 510 or newer AMD: AMD Radeon RX 500 or newer, driver version Adrenaline 22.2.1or newer Supported Operating Systems: OS X: OS X 10.15 or newer (e.g. Catalina, Big Sur, or Monterey) Windows: Windows 10 or 11, 64-bit Linux: Varies If you want to run on Linux, you will need to try X-Plane on your distribution to see if it is compatible. We have developers using Ubuntu 20.04 LTS and newer successfully, however we don’t provide support for specific distributions. We require the proprietary driver from NVIDIA to run X-Plane. We require the Mesa drivers, version 22.0 or newer, for AMD to run X-Plane. Download the free demo of X-Plane 12 and experience all of these improvements for yourself. _____________________ X-Plane 12 is purchased directly from Laminar Research for still currently US$59.95 and the download file size is 82 GB X-Plane 12 Price is US$59.95, tomorrow it will be US$79.99! _____________________ NEWS! by Stephen Dutton 31st 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
  2. X-Plane 12 Roadmap v12.1.0 Laminar Research have issued a Roadmap on the immediate future of the X-Plane Simulator. And a very interesting Roadmap it is. First is the price increase of X-Plane. The price of the Simulator will change from US$59.99 to US$79.99 with the introduction of a new numbering system starting with version v12.1.0... yes there is an extra digit in there, but in reality it is also a start of a new era in X-Plane version numbering, with more incremental releases for quicker (smaller) and more frequent changes to the simulator. I have over the last few years asserted that X-Plane is simply too cheap, and it needed more resources to counter the growing size and complexity of the simulator. Now it looks like Laminar Research has come to the same conclusion. As the requirements of running a modern simulator have grown exponentially, increasing every year... three guys with laptops can't cover the requirements of modern systems and the software required to create a modern Simulator like it did a decade ago, and the development and run-out of X-Plane 12 has showed that the pressure was on and the old style system was now detrimental to the workings of the business. Unfortunately Microsoft's re-emergence back into Simulation with Flight Simulator, left Laminar sitting on it's laurels, the game changed, so you have to adapt and change with it, it is a welcome forward looking change. v12.08 But first there is the last version release of the old current version... v12.08. X-Plane 12.0.8 is already in beta testing, and is expected to be released in the next week or two. Flight Model Top of the list is focusing on improving the flight model, and improvements to the way that X-Plane simulates engine performance. Jets, turboprops and reciprocating engines will now follow real-world test data more closely, and used data from Pratt & Whitney will bring the numbers closer to reality. Landing Gear Physics Yeah! Finally... I have found over the last few years that landing aircraft in X-Plane is like landing and taking off on ice, it is not at all realistic, to a point it is even putting me off enjoying the simulator to it's fullest extent, plus it's not at all realistic for reviews. In v12.08 there will be changes to the ground Inertia. Wheel Inertia – which means smoother landings, winning! The wheels on the aircraft’s main gear will now reach the speed of the aircraft sooner after touchdown, resulting in less forward pitch/slam on the nose gear during rollout. Weld Modeling – this code controls each wheel’s transition between rolling and not-rolling. That sounds trivial but when you consider that it effects every transition from an aircraft being parked vs. not parked and low-speed taxi, it’s important to get it right! ABS Revisions – tweaks to the logic that the anti-lock breaking system in X-Plane uses to slow down the aircraft after landing without too much skrrt skrrtt skrrrtt. Hallelujah for all that, and finally. New Fuel Temperature Model Did you know that jet airplanes actually use their fuel to cool their oil? That’s why they don’t have any visible oil coolers like your ol’ Cessna 172! The oil heats the fuel and the fuel dissipates its heat through the skin of the wing! So, in effect, jet airplanes use their wings as their radiators. This is now fully simulated in X-Plane 12. Check out the details in the fuel temperature in data output screen to see the effects in your favorite jet aircraft. This has been debated in the forums? Fuel Oil Heat Exchangers (FOHE), are usually used where the oil is cooled while the fuel is heated? More details on this aspect is probably needed. Projector Warping/Blending The use of multiple projectors to display the world around you is the gold standard of display in flight simulation. There’s a catch though – when you point multiple projectors at a curved screen, the image from each projector looks wonky and distorted. We solve this by rearranging the pixels that X-Plane sends to the projector itself – yielding a visually correct image. Behind the scenes, this is powered by all sorts of trigonometry and calculations but the end user simply needs to align a grid pattern to their display and they’re good to go! This feature will be available with our X-Plane Professional licenses. Networking and Ex-Visual Sync …have both received a bunch of bug fixes to improve the experience when using X-Plane in setups that include multiple computers driving multiple monitors. But also a good update and welcome news for those trying to blend together three or more displays in home-build systems, of which there has been a lot of noise or complaining since the introduction of X-Plane 12. Graphics quality-of-life Bug Fixes 12.0.8 is firmly focused on the physics side of X-Plane, but the graphics team has also included two quick fixes to address pressing concerns: - The most common is the “totally out of VRAM” crashes have been resolved - Users should no longer experience a long pause when popping out windows v12.1.0 A new version numbering system will probably bring in a reset of X-Plane 12... and the focus is all on graphics. My guess the release will be around the late November and early December, to have the Simulator better packaged for Christmas 23 Real Weather Improvement No more square “Minecraft” cloud formations when Real Weather is enabled. A definite yes to that. Weather has improved enormously since the release of v12.06/7, but a lot of weird cloud formations are still visible, certainly at high altitudes. Water opacity and Cloud Shadows on Water I love the X-Plane water effects, but to be honest it's not at all totally realistic in it all being so very clear, great for tropical reflections, but not for the North Sea. So here will be a fix for that, plus real cloud shadows on the water to make the water even more visually appealing. Better Bloom Lighting Effects One area that needed more attention is "Bloom" lighting effects. Bloom is based on a real-world phenomenon that is causing bright lights to bleed over into darker areas when seen through a lens, causing fringes (or feathers) of light extending from the borders of bright areas in an image. Yes very nice and it make lighting more realistic. RCAS (Robust Contrast Adaptative Sharpening) Contrast Adaptive Sharpening (CAS) will help increase visual quality by enabling sharpening with optional upscaling to restore detail lost after TAA is applied, the result is softer, less aliased ground shadows. MSAA Improvements There has been a lot of noise around Multisample Anti-Aliasing (MSAA). In fact it is the one most complained about area of X-Plane 12. The dreaded "Jaggies", and yes they are really bad, worse are when combined with reflective water effects, and needs serious attention. Work arounds just don't work, many have turned MSAA off completely to try to get a better rendering. It works, but only from certain angles, then you get very bad large jaggies all over the objects. So fixes include.. - MSAA resolution so that is photometrically correct - MSAA of alpha-cut textures - Improved CPU Performance And a new “modern collector” – the code that the sim uses to find all the scenery necessary to draw. We know that many users are now only CPU-bound in X-Plane and this is step one to improve their experience in the sim. Looking further down the road (no pun intended) 2024 G1000 Avonics In a few areas here X-Plane has been a bit lax and is need of some updates. One area is the default G1000 Avionics system, which is feeling it's age lately. All avionics in X-Plane will always be quite generic, that is a given considering the wide variety of aircraft they have to cover. But there are many areas that could be improved, and they are. - New G1000 pages - G1000 Synthetic Vision Are what is required to bring the universal G1000 up to date, as it needs more depth and features. Airliner-style weather radar With better weather and forecasts in X-Plane 12, then you also need better (or more realistic) weather displays in the cockpit, this is coming, and not before time. Plugin-created glass avionics To allow more 3rd party avionics into the Simulator, so a plug and fly system would make your instrument panel more realistic and better avionics accessible. Graphics Graphics are still going to get a lot of attention ongoing down the road - Depth of Field effects (for pretty pictures) - CACAO (Combined Adaptive Compute Ambient Occlusion) fixes (small SSAO update) - New Particle Effects, like sparks from engines/fuselages touching the ground at speed - (better) Ground spray from wheels/engines - Helicopter Brown-Outs/White-Outs (if helicopter flying wasn't hard enough), but this is a returning feature, not used for a few years. - Virtualized VRAM – using the virtual memory capabilities of modern graphics cards, we can pack VRAM more tightly, waste less VRAM and not have to move things around like a number puzzle. This should result in sharper textures and less likelihood of out-of-VRAM crashes. Lighting Model Lighting has slowly being getting better, but it still has a long way to go. I made my thoughts quite clear on the problems of the lighting in X-Plane 12 in my Sept 2023 Behind the Screen Edition. Lighting changes or adjustments coming next year will include... - Light Level Tuning - Sky Exposure Recalibration - Clouds Affect Haze and Sky - Local Rain and Fog Affects Visibility - Foggy Lights - Fix Dark Cockpits Networking Networking is one of the huge growth areas of X-Plane, so you will see far more attention and features in this specialised area as the Simulator proceeds though the X-Plane 12 version. Focus on intergration and online gaming will see you immersed in a more 3d world. - Multiplayer Bug Fixes - Improved synchronization between external visuals monitors – ground trucks, etc. Missing? VR... a lot of users want VR or Virtual Reality to have more attention from Laminar Research. My guess is there will be attention on VR during this Roadmap. The last published Roadmap from Laminar came out in May 2023. It covered versions 12.05, 12.06, and 12.07, and that development road has now been completed. This new Roadmap with the new version numbering change will take you to about Easter 2024, if successful it will deliver significant and finally the required fine-tuning aspect the X-Plane 12 version the Simulator requires. For once it covers a lot of areas I have fussed over and covers complaints in the forums, if Laminar delivers, then it will be a very good advancement of the Simulator. But it is also a big list to cover, far bigger than the earlier May 2023 Roadmap. Laminar did do it... but only just. X-Plane 12 Minimum Requirements CPU: Intel Core i3, i5, i7, or i9 CPU with 4 or more cores, or AMD Ryzen 3, 5, 7 or 9. (Those with other CPUs should try the demo before purchasing.) Memory: 8 GB RAM Video Card: a Vulkan 1.3-capable video card from NVIDIA or AMD with at least 2 GB VRAM If your system is borderline, we encourage you to try the demo first. The full version of the simulator will perform exactly the same as the demo—neither better nor worse. X-Plane 12 Recommended Requirements CPU: Intel Core i5 8600k or Ryzen 5 3500 or better, or Apple Silicon Memory: 16-24 GB RAM or more Video Card: a DirectX 12-capable video card from NVIDIA or AMD with at least 4 GB VRAM (GeForce GTX 1070 or better, or similar from AMD) Supported Video Cards: NVIDIA: NVIDIA GeForce 900 or newer, driver version 510 or newer AMD: AMD Radeon RX 500 or newer, driver version Adrenaline 22.2.1or newer Supported Operating Systems: OS X: OS X 10.15 or newer (e.g. Catalina, Big Sur, or Monterey) Windows: Windows 10 or 11, 64-bit Linux: Varies If you want to run on Linux, you will need to try X-Plane on your distribution to see if it is compatible. We have developers using Ubuntu 20.04 LTS and newer successfully, however we don’t provide support for specific distributions. We require the proprietary driver from NVIDIA to run X-Plane. We require the Mesa drivers, version 22.0 or newer, for AMD to run X-Plane. Roadmap announcement is here: Coming in X-Plane 12.0.8 and beyond – Roadmap Update Download the free demo of X-Plane 12 and experience all of these improvements for yourself. _____________________ X-Plane 12 is purchased directly from Laminar Research for currently US$59.95 and the download file size is 82 GB X-Plane 12 Price is US$59.95, soon to be US$79.99 _____________________ X-Plane 12 Roadmap overview by Stephen Dutton 4th 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
  3. X-Plane 12 : State of the Union It is really hard to believe that even at this point in time, that when X-Plane 12 was finally released, or as it was labelled as in it's "Early Access" and "Beta" release form. Such has been the developments of the last twelve months. Last year around June 2022 there was still a lot of speculation mixed in with a bit of fear. The X-Plane 12 development was seriously dragging on, and even a Dev Deep-Dives series with FSElite (10 episodes) didn't quell the uneasy feelings. And Austin Meyer the X-Plane Simulator founder, by then also became more and more outrageous in his broadcasts to cover the waiting. We tried to look between the cracks, but mostly the development process was kept very close to the chest. Almost a year on and the 2023 FlightSimExpo in Houston was in progress, Laminar Research was there and competing with Asobo Studios/Microsoft, now with an announced version of the next installment or version of MSFS, called "Flight Simulator 2024". For Laminar Research it had already been quite a journey. Starting not with the development of X-Plane 12, but to overhaul completely the core of X-Plane Simulator's API to the more modern Vulkan/Metal standards, to note, X-plane 12 could not even existed on the older OpenGL platform. But developing both the API and a new X-Plane version together has been an enormous task for the very small, but tight core Laminar development coders. We expected Laminar Research to bring their latest version of X-Plane 12 to the Expo as well (X-Plane 12.06, even if in parts), so maybe it was a good time to see what has transpired since the original "Beta" release, then the formal release in December 2022, and the current state of were we all are now a year on. In a way the XP12.06 release was to be a highly anticipated significant one. For one it will end the development and release update phase of the X-Plane 12 release. Certainly not all the fixes and bugs would have been covered, but the majority of the changes should now be behind us. Going forward means not spending time fixing, but maturing and developing the simulator to a higher degree. But again it was not to be the case, if v12.06 was shown at the Expo it is was in a raw form, and certainly Laminar didn't crow about it as both Austin Meyer or head developer Ben Supnic were notably absent. Oddly or more important is that for the first time X-Plane 12 was being scrutinized directly against Microsoft's Flight Simulator, both are interesting as this as X-Plane 12 in it's current refined form, and MSFS in already promoting it's next upgraded version in MSFS 2024. Significant also was the factor that neither were noted doing seminars, just floor demonstrations, but Microsoft turned that aspect on it's head at the last minute and did a "Lite" seminar session. The truth is Microsoft stole a lot of X-Plane related ideas for the release of MSFS 2020, and X-Plane replied with a lot of MSFS ideas in X-Plane 12. MSFS 2024 as announced in that seminar, now goes even further in stealing more X-Plane features in helicopters, SARS, water and fire particles, oil rig scenery and landing pad, crop dusting, wildfires and even animated skydivers (yes X-Plane does have animated skydivers). One important point to make though at the 23 Expo, was that almost every demonstration stand was running X-Plane, not streaming MSFS 2020. Why, because it is still a simulator in the box, not relying on a internet connection, a change of the times from earlier Expos, when almost every single vendor was using Flight Simulator to show off their wares, and when back then X-Plane was in the small minority. But first we will look back before looking forward. As always I explain details to anyone coming into simulation for the first time, yes it goes over a lot of old ground to regular users, but it also puts the simulator situation into it's proper context. X-Plane 12 The X-Plane Flight Simulator was originally released as X-Plane 1.00 back in 1995 which is now 26 years ago. Basically around every 4-5 Years, Laminar Research the X-Plane's developers releases another numbered upgrade version of the Simulator, the current version is X-Plane 12 that was released originally back in September 2022. The earlier version was X-Plane 11 (v11.53 was the final version) that was released originally back in March 2017. Each release is a new version, and to use it, it has to be repurchased. The cost of X-Plane 12 is US$59.95. But the initial cost also covers all development and any new features for that full version run, up until the next version is released in the development cycle in approx another 4-5 years. The "Beta" release was a public purchase test version, so everyone can now access the new simulator and it's new features. But it's not a final release, as it was still noted only as an early development release or "Early Access" Beta. The X-Plane 12 Beta ran from the 6th September 2022 (called alpha 38) and it was expected to go "Final" just before Christmas, and in "Release Candidate" RC 6 form it did, 17th December 2022. My first impressions of the "Beta" release were very favourable, X-Plane 12 on it's release was actually far better than we had expected. Early indications showed it was a major leap forward than X-Plane 11, of which it should be. Lighting was excellent, as was the weather and seasons, also the fauna and trees. Grass was left out of the XP12 because of it's very high framerate use, or in my guess the limited development time. ATC had a huge revision, and again this was highlighted with another three major updates at later dates thoughout the year. With the huge jump in quality over X-Plane 11 we expected our systems to groan under the sheer weight of the more excess demands of X-Plane 12. To a point the new version did require a substantial upgrade in hardware to cater for it, but oddly not initially, as XP12 ran quite nicely on most lighter cards. Several areas on release however became controversial. First was the "Black Hole" of the internal lighting. Heavy shading made it impossible to work in most cockpits. Now it must be said that early aircraft were configured to X-Plane 11 lighting, not the new X-Plane 12 dynamics, but there was clearly a problem. Even as the early configured X-Plane 12 aircraft were released the internal lighting didn't work, more so was the time it took (keeping developers waiting) in finding a fix. Another early problem was high winds at altitude, this one was a nasty issue, and it even flowed down at lower altitudes, aircraft active surfaces twitched very badly to the wrong wind information, so clean flying was almost impossible. Beta Phase Early beta releases fix updates also focused mostly on 3rd party items like the excellent upgraded X-Plane 12 default fleet of aircraft, all were very highly well received, except for oddly the AirbusA330-300. Here the promised custom MCDU was not available on release, all round the A330 felt a bit underdeveloped, why odd? because the aircraft was X-Plane 12's major default focus aircraft feature, and it was the worst developed in the release. Personally I found the first few months with X-Plane 12 quite nice, even if it was in a beta development, even with the dark cockpit and wind issues. It had smooth framerate wise and the lighting was very good as it had this nice 3d effect, even MSFS in look. In fact as the beta's focused on the extra elements and not the core of the simulator there was not many changes to the sim with the early beta process. There was however the nasty emergency hot fix for broken draped polygon textures, which sent your scenery blank, or with grey walls... but it was fixed very quickly in about five days. In the Beta 8 release there was some significant additions. One new default item was in cockpit pilots. A male and female quality styled pilot's were added to all the default airliner aircraft, and 3rd party developers snapped them up quickly for their own use. The second major addition was the excellent ALIA-250 eVTOL aircraft. Altogether there was 14 Beta releases for X-Plane 12, a lot less than the 17 Beta releases for X-Plane 11, then you went into 6 "Release Candidate" (RC) updates. These high density filled RC releases showed that Laminar was on a mission to get the Simulator into a major release before Christmas 2022. They did it... on releasing X-Plane 12 to the general public 17th December 2022. In reality the full X-Plane 12 release was a false dawn. In any form users know that no Simulator is finished, as they are all in a constant forward development, but in X-Plane 12's case that shorter beta period run was or should have been a warning sign of things to come. In the RC3 release it came with a warning "the auto-exposure system is still being modified", and Austin also changed the flight model considerably, both these areas would have serious repercussions later. My question at this time was "Why are Laminar still messing around and changing the Flight Model, three months after the introduction of the Simulator?". In reality items like these should have been refined and done before any release at all, as they would impact highly on X-Plane conversion development in progress. In a bonus Laminar had come up with a solution for the dark cockpits, now as you glanced downwards into the murk, it would artificially lighten the lower view. It worked, I liked it, but a lot of users didn't, but it was a nice solution. X-Plane 12 early release Something went seriously wrong with the v12.01r1 release, the second one in the New Year 2023. Before this release we had a capable working Simulator (even in a beta form), what we had now was a disaster. My guess is that in trying to get more efficient framerate out of the Simulator, Laminar messed it up, suddenly we had serious "Vulcan device loss errors", and the high winds were also now more nasty than ever. On the "Vulcan device loss errors", a lot of users actually had them even from the initial beta release, but these were users that also had very weak computer systems anyway. Now the goal posts had changed, even mid-powerful machines (meaning me) now didn't have enough Graphic capability to run X-Plane 12. The already very heavy demands of running X-Plane 12 had now suddenly gone even higher, from this point on you would need a pretty powerful chip and card combo to do even the basic of simulator flying, and it cost you serious money to get an upgraded card into your machine just to do basic X-Plane Simulations. Around this time (probably related) I found the lighting went a bit awkward as well. Basically duller under cloud conditions. In clear conditions it was fine, but add in a bit of cloud cover and everything underneath it went all dull and flat, internally in aircraft it was also dull and hard to see and the external lighting disappeared. Another lighting condition that changed was the lighting reflections in the daylight, say glareshield dropdown lighting, this lighting effect also disappeared, external views (from the cockpit) went brighter (glary) as well. Laminar's focus however was somewhere else. It was called Zink. With the change to the Vulkan/Metal API, a lot of the original OpenGL plugins didn't work. So Zink was installed to convert (or to be a bridge) between the old OpenGL and newer Vulkan/Metal API's. I don't use Zink, mainly because I don't have a big library of plugins, but a lot of users also needed the fix as AMD users out there got a lot of flickering and CTD (Crash to Desktop). Then the.dds files started to fail? .dds is the format used in textures, a more efficient system than say the bulky .png format, that was another hot fix from Laminar. Then another when the "GRIB_get_field failed", in other words the NOAA or "NOAA Operational Model Archive and Distribution System", pulled the GRIB Files that X-Plane 12 uses for the Simulator for downloading live global Weather. And Laminar had to do another quick fix on that. It is still problematic now, as NOAA still has a habit of shutting down (or shutting out) at crucial times. 12.03b1 then delivered a lot of new DSF files, these delivered more data on the tile and in a lot of the areas better detail, a few more autogen items were delivered as well, but not the huge feature list noted in the pre-release videos, of say port infrastructure. 12.04b1, late in February was a game changer (no pun intended). It fixed (finally the high winds problem), the clouds and the sky got a lot better as well (not perfect as you still had those horrible pyramid shape clouds, and zebra-stripes at high levels). To a point the .04 beta did allow developers to get their aircraft into a more stable condition relating to X-Plane 12, so you got a load of aircraft conversion releases around Easter. Also important was the release of the SASL 3.16.1, which (finally) provided native plugin support for Mac M1/M2 arm64 architecture. In English it means users on Apple systems could finally fly X-Plane 12 aircraft. However for most of .04 beta, it was used to fix loads of Zink bugs. Then at the end of March 2023 came v12.05b1, and Laminar finally delivered the update for their A330-300. Here included in this release was the custom MCDU for the aircraft, but again oddly it still had initially a default FMS feel to the system. And the followup v12.05r1 had another significant load of changes and fixes that came for the A330 as well. X-Plane12.06 Which brings us to the significant v12.06 release. It comes with a noted VRAM re-architecture, claims improvements for performance and reduces the risk of blurry textures. The biggest improvement is up high in the sky. Here those nasty pyramid shape clouds, and zebra-stripes have finally gone, and have been replaced by major improvements to the flexibility and the visual quality of the clouds, including adding in the missing cirrus clouds. The the development roadmap for this crucial version went on for months, and right on past that crucial Expo date, you thought it was ever never coming. It finally came on the 20th August 2023. But the version v12.06 did live up to it's gamechanger forecast... ... with the beautiful and wispy the new Cirrus high level clouds, and they are a major improvement. My test area is the North Atlantic, in flying long haul you can usually cover all the range of clouds, and yes finally in v12.06r1, they are looking gorgeous after more tinkering through the 06 beta. But we are not out of the woods (or clouds) yet... There are still too many elements here that are straight lined, or open space rectangles, they are plainly seen, another element are what I call "Cliff Faces" or clouds in long blocks that go straight up? But after the earlier pyramid shape clouds, and the zebra-stripes, I'm willing to accept these elements as a huge step forward. But two images are interesting, if excellent. Seen at dusk, they were very, very good in highlighting the X-Plane weather system when it all works together, the slight bands of light, in a rather gloomy night sky is simply sensational. Another translation of dusk, it works, very nice... but I still wish for more moon light (It is a full moon at this point), as when it goes dark, it goes black with almost no highlights, those clouds should be bouncing with light. With the early V12.06 betas the lighting was still poor. everything under the cloud, was dull and flat, a brief moment you saw the sunlight break though the blue patches in the sky (noted as XPD-14318 – Cirrus need to allow more sunlight to reach the earth) and the weather not matching the METAR (too many clouds, too much rain). This has made the biggest impression on me over the last eight months, dark aircraft and blacker cockpits, made reviewing hard work in translating the visual aspects of X-Plane to the reviews, it is better, in fact far better in v12.06... but not what I would still call naturally realistic, I would like more control (graphics/menu) if Laminar can't get it right, at least give us some options to twiddle the lighting, rather than none. But it is working... it suddenly looked wonderful, in v12.06b7 as these images attest, but currently is X-Plane 12 still overall missing that magical something? Interesting is comparing images from the release v12.01 (beta) and current V12.06. The top two images I took at the beta release twelve months ago, the lower four images are current. Earlier the lighting is very soft, but the haze is very realistic... below everything is now harder, clearer and any cloud will dull out the aircraft, the ground is always very harsh, sharp. The debate is if it is in the real way you look at the environment. As you might like the look of a more open solid feel, rather than the more softer one, to you the lower images will look more dynamically realistic, were as I prefer the more romantic view, to me the lower is more monochrome. My guess the real look and feel is somewhere in the middle. But X-Plane 12 is night and day better than X-Plane 11 in it's look and feel factor. OpenXR support, this will translate into easier access to the X-Plane VR system for 3rd parties. This will increase the variety of VR headsets compatible with X-Plane over time. The aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford class in X-Plane now has a full complement of static aircraft, cranes, tugs and more, on deck and below in the huge deck hangar. These additions include also a fully animated SH-60 Seahawk, that is constantly patrolling the vicinity. Notable is that now the water is still not translucent below the surface, I loved looking at the hulls of ships, but honestly it is not at all realistic. In v12.06 and a year on, this aspect still has not been fixed. ATC has had a lot of improvements in v12.06, including that the ATC is now aware of TCAS (but only the X-Plane A.I), and the controllers can now use multiple available channels, reducing radio contention in the cockpit. Generated flows now align to the longest runway instead of always cardinal directions, and generated calm flows now only use one runway. Wake separation is also now taken into account when issuing line-up or takeoff instructions. A big one for me is the option to allow editing of basic flight data if something required is missing, even if the flight is already under way, the fixed flight data is thankfully in the past, now you can change it on the line. LOD (Level of Detail) has not been great either, you can see grass being added as you went down the runway, or the blank areas on the horizon, the poor horizon line didn't help either? Its noted (XPD-14364 – XPLMInstance LODs do not cull object at max LOD), also the Anti-Aliasing, is still tooth saw visible on the higher settings. V12.06 is certainly the breakthrough version that the promise of X-Plane 12 is starting to shine though (no pun intended), it is more stable and even better refined, framerate is now also better. But this point is twelve months on, or a whole year of development, Laminar are still fixing things, not fine-tuning things? More atmospheric scattering improvements, and exposure recalibration and even bloom Lighting Effects are coming later with X-Plane v12.07. In other words even more refining with the sky and lighting. Other notes for v12.07 include Turbine Engine improvements, avionics and OBJ restructuring, networking. So this all adds up to a very bumpy first year for X-Plane 12, so are we through the worst? Personal experience says absolutely yes, but this has been one of the most unpredictable X-Plane Releases I can remember, I thought the beta was very good, then it went seriously wonky at the start of 2023, only now is X-Plane 12 getting back to somewhere reasonable. But eight months is a long time to repair the damage, less said is in that you still don't actually close X-Plane 12 after a session, but rather "Crash... freeze" out of it? But overall you have to look at the benefits of X-Plane 12. The photometric lighting engine is absolutely sensational (when it works) and so now are the cloud formations (I say better, not the best). Seasons are also sensational, but again you have to manually get the effects you want, not the real world current environmental situation. Aircraft are better at flying, one through the better dynamics, look far better in that 3d effect. Water is also sensational (probably the highlight), and lives up the hype. 3D forests and vegetation are also very good, but let down by the poor texture mesh, just a higher texture mesh resolution would help. Provided default aircraft are also excellent, as good as payware in many instances, even the Airbus A330 is now up to standard that would also pass as payware. The problem facing X-Plane or any simulator. Is that the standards in this decade are now extremely high, gaming (not really related) but a significant parallel in what users expect from visual quality and framerate. Obviously MSFS raised the bar, but not totally, in many areas it is quite poor to X-Plane. Any updates to MSFS 2024, are more in the external (fun) features than to the basic core Simulator. Overall we have to understand the full complexity of the X-Plane 12 release. This was not a simple version release. As noted the Simulator was already into a very deep internal engine change, but it was only halfway through the process. To a point Laminar are now at the end of that huge overhaul of the API, and X-Plane 12's release was also a big part of it, we are now on the other side. So the next twelve months are interesting... refinement will need to be the buzzword, but I also think that Laminar also need to pull something special out of the box, a sort of reward for all the pain we have gone through, attract the punters back, make X-Plane desirable, and not just to be an alternative Simulation option. 2024 needs to be a solid year, a positive year, not just in attitude, but in the Simulator actually been reliable in using the software, in other words quality software... we will see the answer to that question at the State of the Union 2024. __________________ 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 12.06r1 (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 - Airbus A340-600 XP12 by ToLiSS (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$89.99 - Airbus A319-100 XP12 by ToLiSS (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$89.99 State of the Union by Stephen Dutton 6th 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)
  4. NEWS! - X-Plane 12 goes Final! Laminar Research on the Release Canadate 6, has gone "Final". This means that X-Plane 12 is now an official release version, and goes out of the development beta phase. Is it finished? of course not as the development process will continue in more working beta's right through the version run, but it does mean that you can now switch to a "Stable" ahem version of X-Plane 12, and the version will be available for hard copies (DVD) and professional versions of the Simulator. Release of X-Plane 12 was on the 6th September 2022. When released back then it was noted as an "Early Access" Beta, or an on-line download only. As Beta's go it was quite a bumpy road, but an expected nominal one. The new X-Plane 12 simulator features volumetric 3D clouds, a physics-based photometric lighting model, worldwide 3D water, a full rewrite of the AI Air Traffic Control system, global 3D forests, seasonal textures, weather effects, revamped real weather data, and eight new aircraft. As there are now 19 aircraft and the 8 aircraft denoted here in purple are NEW. The rest coming over from X-Plane 11 have all had significant upgrades to X-Plane 12 effects, textures and avionics. Airbus A330-300 Cessna Citation X Lancair Evolution Cirrus SR22 Grumman F-14 Tomcat Robinson R22 Beta II Piper PA-18 Super Cub Van's Aircraft RV-10 Aero-Works Aerolite 103 Beechcraft Baron 58 Beechcraft King Air C90B Cirrus Vision SF50 McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II McDonnell Douglas MD-82 Schleicher ASK 21 Stinson L-5 Sentinel Boeing 737-800 Cessna 172 SP Sikorsky S-76 X-PlaneReviews did at the time of the beta release, a complete a full rundown of the features and details of X-Plane 12; X-Plane 12 - Next Generation X-Plane Beta release "Early Access" There is also X-Plane 12 Simulator to try out demo on the official website before making the purchase. You do get get the full Simulator, but are restricted to flying a small area and a time period X-Plane 12 Minimum Requirements CPU: Intel Core i3, i5, i7, or i9 CPU with 4 or more cores, or AMD Ryzen 3, 5, 7 or 9. (Those with other CPUs should try the demo before purchasing.) Memory: 8 GB RAM Video Card: a Vulkan 1.3-capable video card from NVIDIA or AMD with at least 2 GB VRAM If your system is borderline, we encourage you to try the demo first. The full version of the simulator will perform exactly the same as the demo—neither better nor worse. X-Plane 12 Recommended Requirements CPU: Intel Core i5 8600k or Ryzen 5 3500 or better, or Apple Silicon Memory: 16-24 GB RAM or more Video Card: a DirectX 12-capable video card from NVIDIA or AMD with at least 4 GB VRAM (GeForce GTX 1070 or better, or similar from AMD) Supported Video Cards: NVIDIA: NVIDIA GeForce 900 or newer, driver version 510 or newer AMD: AMD Radeon RX 500 or newer, driver version Adrenaline 22.2.1or newer Supported Operating Systems: OS X: OS X 10.15 or newer (e.g. Catalina, Big Sur, or Monterey) Windows: Windows 10 or 11, 64-bit Linux: Varies If you want to run on Linux, you will need to try X-Plane on your distribution to see if it is compatible. We have developers using Ubuntu 20.04 LTS and newer successfully, however we don’t provide support for specific distributions. We require the proprietary driver from NVIDIA to run X-Plane. We require the Mesa drivers, version 22.0 or newer, for AMD to run X-Plane. It’s also available on the official website and Steam X-Plane 12 is purchased directly from Laminar Research for US$59.95 and the download file size is 82 GB X-Plane 12 Price is US$59.95 _____________________ NEWS! by Stephen Dutton 18th December 2022 Copyright©2022: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  5. NEWS! - Laminar Research announces full X-Plane 12 release in December 2022? At the FSWeekend in Lelystad, Netherlands it was announced that Laminar Research expect to release the "Full" version of the X-Plane 12 in December. That will allow the distribution DVD disks and keys for the Pro version of the new version simulator. It also allows developers in 2023 to release fully X-Plane compatible aircraft, scenery and plugins. The Beta release known as "Early Access" (download only), was released on September 6th 2022, we are currently in b11. Obviously I'm as you are very happy about that announcement... but. I don't know however if to take the announcement as realistic? We have been in beta for only a few months, and yes a lot of elements have been addressed, but I'm not feeling or seeing how X-Plane 12 could go fully X-Plane 12 in four weeks? It just not seem feasible from this point in time? However Laminar Research did note the improved Airbus A330 with a custom MCDU instead of the default XP FMS was shown at the Flight Sim show. Known bugs include... Incomplete or missing features in Alpha/Early Access: Master-external visual networking New XPLM APIs Airbus A330 FMC In progress features: Tuning lighting & fog LIT textures VR holodeck lighting Far trees don’t look great Better cloud shapes, especially cirrus Performance tuning XPD-12879 Wake turbulence broken for 3rd party integrations. But I am not at all happy with the weather conditions (Winds), lighting (internal), Sun, Night lighting and much, much more... the improvements are not coming fast enough to warrant such an announcement. After transitioning three betas in the past (X-Plane 9, X-Plane 10 and X-Plane 11) I know the routine enough by now. My roadmap or guts says more mid-January 2023, even late January at the current pace.... do I hear the words "half baked". Laminar Research have released a formal X-Plane 12 Official Trailer _____________________ X-Plane 12 (Beta) Early Access is purchased directly from Laminar Research for US$59.95 X-Plane 12 Price is US$59.95 A detailed release summary is coming very soon, so check back on the site regularly for coming X-Plane 12 updates as we delve into the exciting new chapter of the X-Plane Simulator. ____________ NEWS! by Stephen Dutton 9th November 2022 Copyright©2022: 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. X-Plane 12 - NavData changes As the first NavData release comes around since X-Plane 12 was unleashed on to the world, there are some interesting changes you need to be aware of. Cycles known as the AIRAC (Aeronautical Information Regulation And Control) cycle is used and produces revisions every 56 days (double AIRAC cycle) or every 28 days (single AIRAC cycle). This is the aeronautical data that runs behind the scenes to create a mirror realistic world of real navigation data to fly the aircraft. There are two (subscriptions) to update to the current cycle data data; one is Navigraph, the second is Aerosoft's "NavDataPro". Here is the 2022 cycle chart. The current cycle is AIRAC Cycle 2210 10th September - 8th October 2022 The data is stored in X-Plane in two places. The main data is stored in "Resources/default data", but you never ever touch this data, and it can lay there for years unless Laminar Research do a remote data update, so in most cases it is always out of date (and why your runway is out of alignment). Second data storage is the "Custom Data" folder in X-Plane 12 default folder. Here are the different downloads between X-Plane 11 and X-Plane 12 (X-Plane 11 is on the right). The main aspects are not changed in the actual navigation data but extra elements have been added in for X-Plane 12. New is: 1200 atc data airspaces The X-Plane 12 "Custom Data" folder is clean as well with a read me text. But to update your cycle data, you drag in your new cycle data to the Custom data Folder. Navigraph have auto installer, but I still prefer to do a manual install here. And that is now done and the new AIRAC is installed. The ATC data is an interesting addition, I also expect the data here to grow during the life of X-Plane 12, JIm Keir has noted that the basic ATC included in the release of X-Plane 12 is just that in being a basic running system, to be heavy enhanced more in the future. So these new elements are part of that system and are interesting additions to X-Plane. I have also added into the new X-Plane 12 "Custom data" the older (updated AIRAC 2010) folder of GNS430 data. If you want to fly old X-Plane aircraft, then a lot are still reliant on this data, not having it in there could also crash your Simulator as well. Aircraft data updates are exactly the same as before with no new additions. Enjoy. X-Plane 12 (Beta) is purchased directly from Laminar Research for US$59.95 and the download file size is 82 GB X-Plane 12 Price is US$59.95 _____________________ X-Plane 12 Analysis by Stephen Dutton 6th October 2022 Copyright©2022: 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. X-Plane 12 - Beta 8 It is hard to believe we are already up to X-Plane 12 Beta 8, yes version eight of the beta run. Are you enjoying X-Plane 12 yet? Personally I think it is incredible, loads of bugs, but the dynamics and certainly the realism in feel is extraordinary. X-PlaneReviews images are a great way to see the differences between X-Plane 11 and X-Plane 12. First note for X-Plane 12b8 is that it screws up the "BetterPushBack" plugin, a fix can be found here; Github Let us start with a nice addition in Beta 8... Pilots. In both the Boeing 738 and the Airbus A332 there are now animated pilots, a male and a female, they are extremely good (meaning realistic) and as noted they move around in the cockpit. Secondly is the addition of another default aircraft, this a promised machine, but not your usual flying machine as this one is drone. ALIA-250 Beta Technologies (stylized as BETA Technologies), is a Burlington, Vermont-based aerospace manufacturer developing electric vertical take off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft for the cargo and logistics industry. The company is headquartered at Burlington International Airport in South Burlington, Vermont, and were they store and test their EVA (Electrical Vertical Aircraft) aircraft. With securing in March 2021, BETA Technologies raised $143 million in venture funding from undisclosed sources. On May 23, 2018, the company made the first tethered flight of its original 4,000 lb (1,800 kg) Ava XC eight motor, eight propeller battery-operated proof of concept aircraft and that year, the Ava XC became the world’s heaviest eVTOL aircraft to fly. In February 2020, the company began participating in the United States Air Force Agility Prime program that seeks to advance electric air mobility. In May, the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center announced that the company, along with Joby Aviation, would progress to the third phase of the program. In June, the company unveiled its second aircraft prototype, ALIA-250. Our own Laminar Research Austin Meyers has had a personally involvement in the development of the ALIA-250, some say in spending too much time as a distraction from working on X-Plane 12. But I don't think that in reality The design of Alia-250 is inspired by the Arctic tern, the longest-migrating bird in the world. It takes cues from the bird’s tail configuration and wing stance, which enable Arctic terns to take long-range flights, to deliver a similar performance. With a wingspan of 50ft, the aircraft has a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 6,000lb (2,721kg). The passenger variant of the aircraft can carry six passengers including a pilot, while the cargo variant will have 200ft³ of space. The efficient aerodynamic features of the eVTOL aircraft include arched wings, tapered wing-tips and angled trusses. The V-shaped tail is expected to reduce drag and improve stability at low speeds. In March 2021, the ALIA-250 made a test flight from Plattsburgh, New York, across Lake Champlain to Burlington, Vermont. But not as a eVOTL aircraft, but with just it's normal wings and a pusher engine, but the aircraft has since done a test untethered eVOTL flight. So what has all this got to do with X-Plane 12 you ask? Well Laminar promised a eVOTL aircraft for the release of X-Plane 12, and now here it is and it is the ALIA-250. It also comes with a personal introduction from Austin Meyers on how to set up and fly the aircraft. It is certainly a fascinating aircraft to look at and even fly... The race to complete a working (and realistic) eVOTL has been going on for a few years now, and a few ideas have already fallen by the wayside. Only really two with the Joby Aviation S4, with the ALIA-250 here are feasible working concepts. I personally never took any eVOTL aircraft with only a single or even a double seat or with no cargo space as anything but wishful thinking in a commercial operation, but these two aircraft do fill the commercial criteria. Being X-Plane we get the full package as well (in X-Plane 12). At KBTV-Burlington International Airport, you will find a BETA developed and prototyped charging stations for eVTOL aircraft made from recycled shipping containers and reused airplane batteries. The facility won't actually recharge the aircraft (It is currently just an 3d object), but we say, "never say never", in X-Plane because it usually does happen. The ALIA-250 is a brilliant concept, four lifting propellers and a single "Pusher" propeller rear and the design and execution here is excellent. The large battery pack is stored in the floor à la a Tesla car. Two wide doors give you access to the ALIA, with a large (cargo/passenger) space in the rear (six passengers including a pilot, cargo 200ft³ of space). Weight is of course critical in these machines so they are quite minimalistic inside... but the futuristic silver and white is very Space X in the design of the seats and the cargo area. Instrument panel(s) are a winged Garmin G1000 Avionics with a stretched GNS 430 in the centre console (why not use the GNS 530?)... ... and a custom fitted GMA 340 Radio, the rest of the switchwork are mostly for show except for the external lighting (Beacon, Strobe, Position, SRCH (non-operable) and Pitot (heat)). Oddly there are very few power related instruments/dials on the right MFD? Each upper rotor and rear pusher have RPM and TEMP readouts, but the only power readout is the Bus V number bottom left? You would expect at least a charge line readout(s) or display? You expected far more here in this aspect. So it is pretty basic, recharging is done and is again very basic. Flying the ALIA-250 There are a few things to set up to fly the ALIA-250. First to switch on ALL the batteries (toggle) to use for the flight via a keyboard selection, if not you will use only battery one (there are five) and that will only give you a short ten min flight (Battery one is a separate setting than the ALL batteries), to recharge you again set a keyboard selection for "Re-charge batteries". Second setting is of the controls which are the throttles. One is the simple "Throttle" that powers the four lifting drive rotors, the second setting is the "Throttle Horizontal" setting for the pusher motor... Flying controls are simple... to power the lift (rotors) you pull up the "Collective", just like in a helicopter, to power the "Pusher" motor you turn the insert wheel forward which set in the handle of the collective. And off you go.... my thoughts are that you need far more readouts (power usage) and better ideas for switching on the power and selections (recharging)... it's just a little "too" basic in this form. Even the "Searchlight" option wasn't finished.... Flying the "copter" was dirt easy, switch-on, and pull up the collective. There are no Rudder Pedals (but they do still work?), so you use the stick in all three axis; Pitch, Roll and to turn... Yaw. Giving power to the "lifters" (depending on the wind strength) you go straight up, but you need to control the power to go up slowly and in control.... but it is super easy to fly. Touch forwards, backwards or to each side to manoeuvre into that direction, again it is best not to over do it. Twisting the Yaw will turn the aircraft 360º, and again it's just too easy. You could just sit up here all day... wasting battery power! So it is time to fly forwards. Another 90º turn and then turn on the pusher power. Interesting is that with most drone style aircraft you dip (or pitch) into the direction you want to go, sort of like in a helicopter. But in the ALIA-250 you don't have to do that? The lifters keep you up and the pusher moves you forward, it is an interesting sensation, but again so easy... Your very tempted to pull the lifting power down quickly, but it's not that easy? Leave the lifters at full power then as you gain speed it will pull you upwards? but if you drop the power on the lifters you will obviously drop... the trick is a blend of the two actions, as you gain speed you lower the lifting power, but gradually until you feel the aerodynamics starting to work, once you have enough speed and wing support, you can then power down the rotors to completely off, and away you go. It's just super cool up here, huge windows give you an amazing view, and only that light "droney" sound and some very slight wind noise, when you are configured for forward flight. If this is flying the Future, then I don't know what is... With proper wings you get an aircraft control feel (which is quite different from a drone feel), there isn't any of that severe pitch that you get with a drone, just clean level flight. The ALIA-250 has already achieved 200+ nm in a test flight, and the goal is a 250 nautical mile range, which is about 463 kilometers. It flies like an aircraft, but the ALIA can also hover like a helicopter, also like a helicopter it has to go from a flight mode to a hover mode which is called effective translational lift (ETL) at around about 16 to 24 knots. We have done the to flight mode, but what of coming back out of forward flight. Oddly the sequence is slightly different than flying a helicopter through the ETL. You have wings here giving you aerodynamic support that a helicopter doesn't have. "Translational" is the word here, pulling back on the pusher does drop away the forward speed (drag), which unlike in a Helio you just don't get. So you bring in the lifters at first slowly. Working the collective you bring up the power while reducing the forward push, the trick is that you also need to lose height in the same transition period hence the correct lifter feel in getting to the right position in power flow... As your forward speed decreases you feel your lift decreasing as well, so you adjust the lifters to compensate, get it wrong and you will drop (literally) out of the sky, but get it right and transition from one flight mode to the other can be quite fluid. Helicopters are seriously difficult at this phase, the ALIA is totally not... I'm not saying it is totally easy either, you still have to use your cognitive skills to find the supple balance between flight and lift, it is there and you have to feel it. You can at lower speeds use the usual pitch up (nose up) to slow down. The power outputs show you were the power is going too. the ALIA is brilliant in this phase... you can use the pusher to move faster, then parking it to move just via the rotor movement at a slower pace. You have complete 3 axis control over the aircraft, so it isn't that single point balance feeling you get with a helicopter, the platform is very steady and controllable. Very easy... in fact anyone can easily fly the ALIA-250. Last thoughts are in that. This is in no doubt a brilliant concept, the ALIA is really the first step to a personal transport and certainly the dream of a flying taxi service. That said you just wish for a little more here. Certainly better intergration of the electrical displays and visual power guides (say like a Tesla), better internal fitouts in seat or visual cargo, and also the operation to recharge the aircraft realistically... but overall it is brilliant. There are one blank and three liveries provided. its first customer is United Therapeutics, Blade Urban Air Mobility has ordered 20 ALIA aircraft, becoming BETA's first passenger service company and Bristow has placed firm order for five ALIA-250 aircraft with an option for an additional 50 aircraft. Already there are painters liveries on the forums, some are already really good. There is great video here by Austin Meyer's himself explaining the Beta aircraft, and the one in X-Plane 12 Here are the rest of the Beta 8 changelog. XPD-13113 – Still having “Approach has gone backwards” and VFR approaches going missed. XPD-13020 – Legacy Dataref CG Z Maps to Wrong Unit. XPD-12077 – Bug report: light_attenuation dataref alway 1.0. XPD-13228 – Art: Pilots for A330 and 737. XPD-13223 – Update Scenery Gateway missing runway autoreporter URL. XPD-13218 – Handle contact point fails a dev assert when checking for collisions. XPD-13170 – sim/graphics/animation/carrier_catapult_station_rat not working for XCAR3 and XCAR4. XPD-13152 – Hiding the ground-ops window in VR also hides the ATC window. XPD-13149 – XPLMSaveDataFile / XPLMLoadDataFile – save/load inccorect data. XPD-13125 – Erroneous dataref values in sim/world/boat/{x,z}_mtr[0,1]. XPD-13102 – Potential crash after departure. XPD-13093 – Hold-short messages may refer to the wrong end of active runways to cross. XPD-13092 – MIssing sim/world/boat/carrier_catshot_status? XPD-13091 – set radio nav freq by dataref does not work correctly. XPD-13089 – sim/ice/anti_ice_toggle command is not working. XPD-13077 – Wings dont droop under fuel load. XPD-13071 – CTD when using CDU815 in custom A/C in PM. XPD-12831 – Datarefs overwritten during merge. XPD-12797 – Request to allow VFR landing after a zone transit. XPD-11427 – Bug report: XPLMCanWriteDataRef always returns true for DataRefs.txt. XPD-11400 – Horizon tilts when panning tower view. XPD-13214 – From Bug Report: Panel maker interface for 3D panel shifted and unreadable. XPD-13172 – Citation X has brakes still set to hydraulic system B, should be A. XPD-13154 – Zone transit should use actual airspace boundary if it’s not ridiculously large. XPD-13153 – IFR clearance should include a squawk code even for relayed clearance. XPD-13138 – Unable to change aircraft basic information if departure ICAO is populated. XPD-13114 – LSO is calling “drop your hook” for aircraft with no tailhook. XPD-13095 – Taxiway names with spaces were not loaded correctly. XPD-12087 – Request for a dataref that shows the state of the UI selected scaling. XPD-13217 – Pronounce name of Ethiopia’s Bole airport (HAAB) correctly. XPD-13141 – F14 F-14 Tomcat Right and Left Engine Fuel Shutoff Handle INOP. XPD-13132 – Ground Attitude in Plane Maker acts crazy. XPD-13122 – Slow speed taxing of the MD82 excessively rolls the aircraft. X-Plane 12 Minimum Requirements CPU: Intel Core i3, i5, i7, or i9 CPU with 4 or more cores, or AMD Ryzen 3, 5, 7 or 9. (Those with other CPUs should try the demo before purchasing.) Memory: 8 GB RAM Video Card: a Vulkan 1.3-capable video card from NVIDIA or AMD with at least 2 GB VRAM If your system is borderline, we encourage you to try the demo first. The full version of the simulator will perform exactly the same as the demo—neither better nor worse. X-Plane 12 Recommended Requirements CPU: Intel Core i5 8600k or Ryzen 5 3500 or better, or Apple Silicon Memory: 16-24 GB RAM or more Video Card: a DirectX 12-capable video card from NVIDIA or AMD with at least 4 GB VRAM (GeForce GTX 1070 or better, or similar from AMD) Supported Video Cards: NVIDIA: NVIDIA GeForce 900 or newer, driver version 510 or newer AMD: AMD Radeon RX 500 or newer, driver version Adrenaline 22.2.1or newer Supported Operating Systems: OS X: OS X 10.15 or newer (e.g. Catalina, Big Sur, or Monterey) Windows: Windows 10 or 11, 64-bit Linux: Varies If you want to run on Linux, you will need to try X-Plane on your distribution to see if it is compatible. We have developers using Ubuntu 20.04 LTS and newer successfully, however we don’t provide support for specific distributions. We require the proprietary driver from NVIDIA to run X-Plane. We require the Mesa drivers, version 22.0 or newer, for AMD to run X-Plane. X-Plane 12 (Beta) is purchased directly from Laminar Research for US$59.95 and the download file size is 82 GB X-Plane 12 Price is US$59.95 _____________________ X-Plane 12 Beta release overview by Stephen Dutton 25th October 2022 Copyright©2022: 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 M2 2TB SSD - Sound : Yamaha Speakers YST-M200SP Software: - Windows 11 - X-Plane b12.00 (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  8. X-Plane 12 - Next Generation X-Plane Beta release "Early Access" The X-Plane Flight Simulator was originally released as X-Plane 1.00 back in 1995 which is now 25 years ago. Basically every 4-5 Years Laminar Research the X-Plane's developers releases another numbered upgrade version of the Simulator, the current version is v11 (v11.53) that was released originally back in March 2017. Each release is a new version and to use it, it will have to be repurchased, the cost of X-Plane 12 is US$59.95. But the initial cost also covers all development and any new features for that full version run, up until the next version is released in the development cycle in approx 4-5 years. Notable is that the US$59.95 payment will cover both not only the access to X-Plane 12, but also the current X-Plane 11 as well, which is good value for newcomers to the X-Plane Simulator. There is a process in numbered version releases. A first release is the Alpha release, a highly developed version only for the developers and third party developers to align the Simulator into a working model. Then comes this (current) public Beta release noted as an "Early Access". The "Beta" release is a public purchase version, so everyone can now access the new Simulator and it's new features. But it's not a final release, as it is still only a development release. So if you want a fully working X-Plane Simulator then this beta release version is not for you. The Beta will go though a few numbered upgrades as the development process works out the bugs and issues, but around say vb12.9 (usually two or three months), it with then go to a RC or Release Candidate version, usually there are two or three RC's in rounding up the final bugs and issues and then finally X-Plane 12 will go "Final", as the official X-Plane 12 Release v12.00. In the case of X-Plane 11, it was released as a Beta on Nov 24th 2016, and as noted went final in Mar 2017. In reality the Beta release IS the launch of the new version we now have here, the bugs and problems aside. In most X-Plane upgrade cycles in the past it took mostly only four years between each version, so to a point X-Plane 12 is late, basically by a whole year. That late aspect will hopefully translate into a much more fully formed beta version, as the X-Plane 11 version was quite buggy for a while (four months), so this time Laminar Research have had far more significant time on it's development (the Alpha stage release was as long ago as early March 22) to make it a more efficient and stable release. If your expecting a MSFS (Microsoft Flight Simulator) clone with X-Plane 12, then that is not what it is. The background to X-Plane 12 is actually unusual from past release editions. Earlier most version releases focused on new features and major simulator changes, like X-Plane 10 was a visual overhaul, and X-Plane 11 was a system (Vulcan/Metal API) overhaul. But X-Plane 12 is more focused on fixing up already current features by making them far, far more efficient and far, far more effective assets, in other words in American jargon "Upsizing". To put this X-Plane 12 version into perspective. It is to take all the current areas that needed attention, areas that have not been refined or of what simulator users have complained about for years, and then not just fix and address these areas, but make them MEGA, "blow them out of the water" so to speak, and in reality the success of this X-Plane 12 version rests on that aspect completely. The title of this article is "New Generation", and that means everything here has be refined and revised, but it is not a completely "wipe the table clean and let's start again" sort of aspect (like Microsoft did with MSFS), as the base of the simulator has already had a huge and significant recalibration from the older OpenGL API (Application Programming Interface) to the current Vulcan/Metal API, which under X-Plane 11 created those significant changes, but also set the foundation to build a lot or to allow the fundamental changes here in X-Plane 12. We will cover only the basics here, and over time X-PlaneReviews will do a more in-depth review of the most significant areas of the new release. So everything shown here are just the first impressions of X-Plane 12 with no refinement or in depth study of the particular areas. If you are not sure if your computer will run or just want to check out this new version of X-Plane. Laminar Research provide a DEMO version to download of X-Plane 12 that covers only the Portland area, the full version requires an Authorisation Key (number) and costs US59.95. Disk Boxed sets of X-Plane 12 will be released at a later date. Laminar Research have changed the X-Plane logo for a more coloured version. Starting up Starting up X-Plane 12 is significantly far faster in loading than X-Plane 11 (obviously that depends on the aircraft and scenery configuration you choose), but I feels it is far more responsive. My current X-Plane 11 start up time is 1m 18s (xEnviro disabled), a horrible 1m 36s with xEnviro active, so being able to disconnect (or not use) xEnviro already saves me a third of my startup time. X-Plane 12 however in start-up was a blazing 51.28s, with a custom scenery and the default XP12 Boeing 737-800, pretty impressive. Start-up screen is now different in X-Plane 12... It is far brighter start to X-Plane than the night landing shot in X-Plane 11 (Highlighting the Boeing 737-800), in X-Plane 12 it is a dawn (or sunset) runway shot with the new default Airbus A330-300. Changes to the Menu The Configuration Menu screen is almost a carbon copy of the Microsoft Flight Simulator (MSFS) Config screen in design, and far more colourful and has a far more intuitive interaction. The links are exactly the same; Resume Last Flight, New Flight, Load Saved Flight, Flight School and Settings, but oddly it feels completely different while doing exactly the same interface job. If new to the X-Plane Simulator, the start-up programme will move to a "Quick Tour" demonstration, showing you an aircraft and a short flight on how to fly it. Changes are that the default airport is now KPDX - Portland and moved on from X-Plane 11's KSEA - Seattle. The default start-up aircraft is also new and changed as well... before it was the Cessna 172SP, now it is the Cirrus SR22. The menu configuration has changed, but in reality not at all? In changed we mean the look, but basically almost every menu page is basically and almost exactly the same as before. Note there is also a "B" on the graphic to denote that this version is the "Beta", version. Resume Last Flight, just loads the last configured flight. The rest load the configuration pages for; New Flight, Load Saved Flight, Flight School and Settings. As noted the layouts are exactly the same, but the Menu itself is now a lovely translucent, and it looks extremely nice, or again very MSFS 2020 in feel. Top banner Menu is exactly the same with no changes. Flight Configuration The "Flight Configuration" Menu is the same as before but now translucent with a nice grey background. Gone is the oppressive dark blue of X-Plane 11. It is a far more brighter happier interface with more colour on the "Weather" and "Time of Day" interfaces, although the layout is actually the same. Weather is not that vastly different as expected, there is now however a huge amount of altitude levels compared to the earlier three. Time of Day is the same. Selecting your "Location" is slightly different with initially only showing the selected airport runway layout, you now have to zoom in to see the start positions. We will go to the "Settings", pages for continuity. Again you can see they are mostly still the same but with the new translucent look. In line are General (settings), Sound, Graphics, Network, Data Output, Joystick, Keyboard, and VR Hardware. On the bottom of the General Page is the "About X-Plane", tab for the current version and Credits. Two areas to look at is the General & Graphic Settings. On the General Page only one item has been removed and that is the "Runways Follow Terrain Contours" option under the Flight Model. The Graphic Page left has had more changes. "Visual Effects" is gone to be replaced by two new sliders for; Ambient Occlusion Quality (SSAO) Rendering Resolution (FSR Supersample) The rest in Texture Quality, Antialiasing and Anisotropic Filtering are the same. Notable is that with the size of the options, the page has now to be slided (moved) downwards to get access to the Field of View section. Changes right side includes now five sliders; Cloud Quality Shadow Quality Rendering Distance World Objects Density (replacing Number of World Objects) Vegetation Density Tickboxes changed includes "Draw Shadows on Scenery" (replaced by slider), and "Use Vulcan driver for faster rendering", as OpenGL is now not used in X-Plane 12 (note; and neither with the OpenGL plugins). Still there is the "Draw Parked Aircraft" tickbox. Accessiblity, Monitor Configuration and Visual Offsets are all still the same. The rest of the Settings pages are also the same. MAP The MAP page layout is the same except for the new feature to show "ATC Boundries", the map has also a darker tint, grey surround and feels quite more like the earlier X-Plane 9. We will look at the ATC in the Air Traffic Control section. Scenery & Mesh Let's get to the most controversial item first... Photo-Scenery or Photogrammetry. Unlike MSFS X-Plane 12 still doesn't have real world photographic base for the simulator. There are several reasons for that. The biggest is that the MSFS photo-scenery engine is two petabytes of world map data, impressive, but you can't download and store 2 Pb as even one Petabyte is equal to 1,000 Terabytes on any standard computer configuration. So in MSFS it is streamed to you as you want it or use it. But most users want (even demand) X-Plane to be "Self-Contained" on your desktop. X-Plane 12 is a bigger at a 80.6 GB download (up from 63 GB), and that will still be a significant space on your hard-drive, worse as most of us use the far faster and more efficient SSD's, still the best compromise here is 2TB (Terrabytes) SSD of which I use (it is still all the best to have the simulator core and scenery on one drive for better usage). So Laminar have gone for upsizing the current scenery, rather than replacing it with photogrammetry tiles. So the scenery tiles have had significant attention to increase their internal data (mostly OSM - Open Street Map) in giving more data depth and detail. Yes the actual tiles have been refined, not only for more efficient loading, but to save frameweight, or less usage of framerate and faster loading and also have a more denser DEM (elevation) data for more mesh detail. And this is why since the introduction of X-Plane 10 the look and mesh data has remained the same. In X-Plane 12 you will need to reload all the Default Global Scenery (a refresh of this now very old data won't be a bad idea either). Portland as noted is the new Demo default scenery, and it looks very good (below). The "Landmarks", packages have been doubled, adding in Berlin and Frankfurt, Budapest, Los Angeles, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Saint Louis and San Francisco. X-Plane Landmarks - Chicago X-Plane Landmarks - Dubai X-Plane Landmarks - Las Vegas X-Plane Landmarks - London X-Plane Landmarks - New York X-Plane Landmarks - Sydney X-Plane Landmarks - Washington DC X-Plane Landmarks - Berlin and Frankfurt X-Plane Landmarks - Budapest X-Plane Landmarks - Los Angeles X-Plane Landmarks - Paris X-Plane Landmarks - Rio De Janeiro X-Plane Landmarks - Saint Louis X-Plane Landmarks - San Francisco Grass was a debated feature, and also not included here yet in X-Plane 12 in actual 3d as it is a significant highlight in MSFS. Which personally was my biggest gripe in covering over the low-resolution mesh that was an X-Plane feel, but not a good one. You may not get grass everywhere, but there are some excellent new grass textures as part of the Global Airport toolkit, and highly realistic and impressive they look, but it is a shame they can't be used Globally. Overall it is a step in the right direction. Ground Textures have also had a huge upgrade, runways, taxiways and some very, very nice edge areas. You could call this aspect now Custom Scenery Quality textures as there is a lot of grunge and more realistic ragged edges. To a point we have had third-party custom surfaces for years, but now the default ones should be even better and more realistic globally.... Impressed. One of the big advantages of MSFS's photogrammetry is that custom scenery will fit in better than X-Plane's landscapes. Exceptional (and cheap) CityScapes are available for MSFS, but still very far and few are available for X-Plane, which I see as a considerable drawback for the Simulator, only time will tell if third party scenery developers will now deliver the same products for X-Plane 12, for those requiring their real life VFR visual aspects to their flying, then the next year or so will be vital in this area, and to a point of even for the success of X-Plane 12 as a simulator. The Autogen (that uses the internal data) is also more dense now and you have a lot, lot more of it, certainly in structures, ports, warehouses, Oil/Fuel Tanks, industrial assets, lighthouses, golf courses, tennis courts and even grave yards. Shipping, coastal areas have had the most attention. So those core X-Plane assets and mostly of all of those files sitting in your Resources folder have had a significant overhaul. So you have a new aircraft carrier in the USS Gerald R. Ford class ship and the frigate. The sailboat is new as well. Ship detail is excellent, there are more new ships in X-Plane 12, but I have to find them... then I will add them to the ones seen below. First Scenery Impressions There are no details yet on which areas have had attention. I found some areas (Los Angeles and Australia) the same as X-Plane 11, however in the United Kingdom, I found the ground textures that are quite different in look and feel, and far deeper in colour, they look impressive. This is Cornwall UK. Note the excellent and more realistic cliff faces. Mountain mesh looks more detailed, but the better lighting helps here to bring out the detail, but overall I feel there has been an improvement. But you still have to accept the poor urban scenarios, no High Industrial, and still there are the huge blank areas to spoil the (LA) landscape... ... if your looking for MSFS landscape detail for VFR flying then it isn't here, as it feels still all very same X-Plane. Many X-Plane users note that scenery or the visual aspects are not high on their lists of why they will use X-Plane 12. But I disagree. As you need a wholly realistic environment to fly in, and certainly with the attraction to MSFS. But what you see here is not I believe the complete finished visual look of X-Plane, as to change a major component (like Laminar did back in X-Plane 10) would have say "pushed the boat out too far", this is an area you could say will be still under development during the X-Plane 12 version run, so I am hoping to expect to see another big feature based on scenery development mid-version of X-Plane 12. Trees and Fauna Notable in the images above are the trees. The trees (and fauna) are now all 3d and finally real quality 3d trees are here (so no more cardboard single or cheap crossed art trees). But not only are these trees brilliantly good in detail, but they now also move with the wind and change with the seasons as the seasonal rendering is dynamic and driven by the already installed (X-Plane11 updated) shader system, to which the shaders are also controlled by local data in latitude and time. Notable as the trees are more expanded in size, they are not clustered as tightly together as in X-Plane 11, and so the earlier very dense forests are more lighter to look at. Seasons Another big change in X-Plane 12 and desired for years (even decades) is "Seasons" in; Summer, Autumn (fall), Winter and Spring. With the help of those animated trees, then they will now change with the landscape to suit the season, upside down as well. In other words if you fly from the northern to the southern hemisphere, the seasons will switch to suit the local climate. Honestly I really love taking off in one environment and landing in another completely different season and environment. By living in Australia, that aspect gets highlighted a lot if you travel overseas or vice versa. So to have that aspect highlighted in X-Plane 12 is a really big highlight for me. A main point to note is not just the change of the seasons, but the FEEL factor. Notice below the warm conditions and the cold and stark conditions are very different and highly realistic. Very Impressed. As we have already covered, it is that these various separate areas can overlap into others, as with the Trees and Seasons to work together as a whole. Weather Yes they have complained about the old three tier X-Plane Weather and Environment system for years, or even for far longer. This is of course a major feature here in X-Plane 12 and in reality the biggest change to the look and feel of the environment around you. The one thing that really blew me away when sighting MSFS for the first time was the weather engine. It is a masterpiece of coding but it is not as effective dynamically. Here X-Plane 12 will have a big advantage. The weather system in X-Plane 12 has been overhauled totally from the ground up. And instead of downloading a large number of METARs local to airports and meshing them all together. X-Plane 12 uses centrally-processed NOAA GLIB files from the Laminar Research central server which will span the globe and be using weather data moving around in real time. This change will transition the simulator from a current slice-of-time approach using hourly reports to a forward-looking method based on algorithmic predictions. This change is expected to greatly decrease the granularity of data, improve real-time meteorological information in less traditionally underserved areas, and allowing for smoother real-time weather transitions in-flight and globally, not locally, so no more nasty jumps in weather changes as your flying. I found local (Australia) conditions to be perfectly replicated, and I'm impressed by the detail and quality of the conditions I can observe visually. In previous versions of the X-Plane Simulator, clouds were rendered as 2D objects (or little puffs). So to simulate 4D effects many of these objects would be drawn together simultaneously at the huge cost of simulator performance. Let us be honest here, all Simulator weather systems are heavy on your computer hardware, meaning your graphics card and there is no difference here. X-Plane 12 has and uses volumetric clouds using Ray marching to render cloud boundaries and calculate the position and the effect of individual water droplet clusters. This is Volume Ray marching, not Ray Tracing, which is faster and far more efficient. They look amazing! Note the excellent lighting strike, it is a long way from the hapless X-Plane10 lighting strikes. GLIB files here can create three-dimensional Precipitation, Wind, Air Pressure, Turbulence, Temperature models that translates to your visual and real-time weather system, it is like having your own little perfect environmental weather system around you now, and better on your framerate as well, but I haven't yet fully tested that aspect yet. But what I do see is fully three-dimensional (towering) clouds that move and reflect as real. The changes to the X-Plane to the X-Plane "Weather Settings" page is quite significant. As you know (if you read our reviews and comments) that I was a big fan of xEnviro. But lately have not been so much. In reality there has been nothing better to replace it (I don't like messing around with core files to make something else work). So is very excited to have a weather engine that can match it in volumetric clouds and lighting effects, not to mention losing the exceeedingly slow loading times. The biggest drawback was in two areas when doing reviews, horrible framerate use (sometimes 30 fr), but worse was the non-adjustable weather conditions that consistently changed as you did the review. Both aspects now gone in X-Plane 12, did I mention the horrible startup times... The weather aspect also cover other features. One is rain. MSFS was at it's release was highly lauded over it's rain effects, so Laminar has responded to that in several ways. First are the excellent wet ground effects (puddles) in high precipitation events, this aspect has already been highly promoted by Laminar and rightly so, you will head to airports just to splish-splosh your way though these excellent puddles, but so are the other climate effects that are graded to the seasons, such as snow and ice which is just as good, and thankfully global in application. xEnviro again had the same idea for a short time, and I loved it, yes I'm very excited about these seasons and the seasonal effects and now having seen them in X-Plane 12, I'm even more excited and coming into winter it will be a must used feature for me in X-Plane 12, Another aspect was rain. We had a plugin called Librain by Saso Kiselkov, but since Vulcan/Metal was implemented it didn't work. The plugin (code) was actually taken in-house by Laminar and has now been made a default feature (Laminar should do more of making good plugins default features), but here it is refined and now far, far better than the original idea, of which Laminar are very good at. The rain spots are visible externally as well as internally (but aircraft have to be converted to use the rain feature). Water Another yearly complaint was water. To be honest I always thought that X-Plane water effects (reflections) were not too bad, except were they went into an algorithmic pattern. But what the users really wanted was water depth, not waves per se. This was very visually visible if you lived in tropical areas (I do) in that the sand and coral changes the water colours at shallow depths. Flight Sim FSX has had a basic version of this effect for years but X-Plane never did, also important was the point the water meets the land, say a beach, as in that aspect it didn't look very realistic either. And so here now both of these water features in depth and transparency are now visually active, and very effective it is as well. The transparency effect is quite exceptional, but so is the water flow in calm and heavy seas. It looks extremely realistic and yes this is a computer simulation, not real world images, a shipping simulator would be as good as a flying simulator here. Many users on release complained (they always do?) that it wasn't good enough, well it is a far better than any of my expectations, but notable was in some areas in the interaction with shoreline were some very noticeable straight lines, it's in the beta fix box. Lighting The lighting system has been totally rebuilt to now include photometrics. The engine can now handle specifying the brightness of a light source either at the individual bulb level (as is common for aircraft) or as measured from outside of the lens covering the bulb (as is common for airports). As with everything here in X-Plane 12 areas crossover (one area can affect another) so the new lighting effects will effect on how the clouds behave in looking realistic, in how the cockpit is rendered (X-Plane 11 cockpits were impossibly dark) and the overall realism of the look of the simulator. It is important to note that the lighting engine has been moved to the Vulcan/Metal API's to access the Graphic Card far more efficiently and faster. X-Plane has had HDR (High-Dynmic-Range) for a while (X-Plane 11), but not a totally full HDR (there was still a lot of LDR - Low-Dynamic-Range also mixed in there). But here we now have a FULL HDR spectrum for our visual use. Or a scene-referred workflow which is one in which we manipulate our images prior to their transformation from camera color space to display the color space. So sky brightness to ground brightness has been highly improved and set to real world brightness and reflection levels. This fine tuning and in creating highly realistic water reflections has been the core (and the time consuming) area of the main lighting task of X-Plane 12. That aspect is also transposed onto the aircraft. Internally the nasty jaggies are gone, and replaced by clean sharp shadows. Externally the aircraft shine and are lit to perfection... so much more highly improved here. Notable however is that the colours are far more saturated than in X-Plane 11, but more internally than externally?, as I had to tone them down a little. Runway and approach lighting has been fine tuned to be authentic to real world brightness levels, to the specific ICAO specifications. And it shows are the approach lighting is highly realistic. But there is a problem with the reflection artificial lighting at night, as it is well over saturated and doesn't look at all realistic... Overall night lighting levels for airports has been reduced significantly to allow for more realistic dark surroundings to runways and taxiways. The direction of airport lighting is also being considered so that airports appear more akin to an "inky black void" when viewed from airliner cruise altitude. One area I have been excited about (but noted to be coming later in b1.1), is a non-completely dark sky, so as no matter how high you fly then there is still light (bleed), but most simulators cheat by just taking the full black night as a default. In reality the real world is not like that and it will be interesting to experience this real and more realistic night sky, certainly as you you fly long haul distances. But for now, it is very, very inky black at night. ATC One area that never felt or was even realistic, and certainly compared to Flight Simulator (all variants) is the X-Plane ATC or Air Traffic Control. This was hopelessly the worst aspect of X-Plane. Fixing it was just as bad, even internal Laminar coders (including Austin himself) have taken turns to try and fix it. In the end reason finally was reached in that it needed a professional coder to try to create a decent ATC. That job went to Jim Kier of the UK, whom created the FS version of Traffic Global. Accessing the new ATC in depth will of course take a separate article, of which I intend to do. The ATC layout is light years better that X-Plane 11. With both hard a surround and translucent panels for ease of use. The panel can also be adjusted for size, from large to very small as not to interfere with your flying... One thing to stress though is that this X-Plane 12 release of the ATC is not the completely finished feature. As basically the core is required to run and effectively and to be assessed before adding in any fancy extras. Notable is that already Improved ATC Speech and Pronunciation has already been implicated as long ago as 2018 with two voices in Joey (Male) and Salli (Female), but still this fully new coded ATC is in no doubt a huge step forward for Simulation, but expect more still coming to this specialised feature in the X-Plane 12's future. Sound Oddly enough "Sound" is new to X-Plane. You may laugh, but yes we have already had sound in aircraft and in the simulator. But what we are talking about here is "Ambient", sounds or background acoustics. In the lead up to the release of X-Plane 12, the one person that impressed me the most was Laminar's sound guru Daniela Rodríguez Careri. Daniela who came aboard Laminar Research around the middle of the X-Plane 11 run. Effectively Daniela has not really had an impact until now, but all that changes here with X-Plane 12. Not only does her work lift the quality of the sounds of the complete default aircraft fleet, but also is very significant in creating for the first time in X-Plane those background ambient soundscapes. Incredibly we thought you wouldn't need them around you until they are actually there. Now they create a more realistic environmental feel to the simulator, or a real world realism. Notable is that all FMOD in X-Plane12 is now v2.0. Notable is that a lot of FMOD v1 aircraft are not translating well to v2, and will need to be upgraded to work correctly. Again many third-party addons do already provide airport soundscapes (XPRealistic and Traffic Global to name two), but these are very sledgehammer style effects that actually can become quite annoying over time. Daniela's approach is more unique, so X-Plane not only looks different but actually feels different when using it. Again rustling trees and nice airport vehicle sounds are just the start as this will be a growing soundscape thoughout the whole of the X-Plane 12 run. Systems All aircraft in the X-Plane 12 world now cast wake turbulence, this means a wing cutting through the air in X-Plane 12 leaves a vortex in the air that swirls inward over the wingtip, and sinks slowly as it dissipates energy over time. Austin Meyers has also spent a lot of time in creating new areas of aerodynamics. Covered now here in X-Plane 12 is better flow and lift for (Supersonic) Delta wings, which is based on the vortex-generation based on the PLAN-FORM of the wing for delta wings, and Entrained Flow is also now simulated. Entrained Flow is usually around a fast-moving jet of air, and when the air nearby is then grabbed and dragged along and then speeding up the air all around the aircraft, in other words a boundary layer creating a vacuum. This effect can be seen when the horizontal stabilizer is jiggling around from the thrust of the engines. Anti-Ice is more in-tune with not only the aircraft's aerodynamic surfaces, but also the systems that the aircraft uses for Anti-ice prevention that is now more highly replicated via pumps and de-icing. Aircraft trim and balance is now also different, in loading weights of passengers and cargo. Instead of one set of weights, the different weights are now calibrated via different zones for more trim realism in the zone of inertia, just like on a real aircraft. In the same vein, hydraulic systems have also been separated in X-Plane 12 so multiple hydraulic areas like the individual flight surfaces can now be powered or failed, before it was singular, not multichannel. Trim Tabs vs Clean elevators can now be also diverged, as they react differently in dynamic flight. Flight Controls can also be separated (via two joysticks, or assigning a separate system to a yoke), and then it can be switchable to the other side if required. Throttle indents (Airbus) can be now assigned and thankfully now a fully working governor is now available for helicopter control. TACAN or TACtical Air Navigation, is a VOR station beacon that is mostly used by the military as it is smaller than the larger VOR array, now X-Plane 12 has TACAN identifiers for this use. GLS or GBAS and GNSS satellite approaches are now also available in X-Plane (12), for the use of the more popular RNAV approach which is a non-precision flight path. This should add in extra realism when using modern satellite based approach paths. Notable for all new default aircraft including above, their systems have had major upgrades (which can be used via PlaneMaker for any X-Plane aircraft). Biggest change is the MAP display in that it is now scalable (so no more tiny waypoint triangles). Default Aircraft The X-Plane 12 fleet is quite different this time around. In the past you usually got a banner aircraft plus a few upgrades to the existing fleet, but that is not the case this time around. There is of course still a brand new banner aircraft in this case an Airbus in the A330-300 (the Boeing 737-800 was the banner aircraft for X-Plane 11). But overall there are now 19 aircraft and the 8 aircraft denoted here in purple are NEW. The rest coming over from X-Plane 11 have all had significant upgrades to X-Plane 12 effects, textures and avionics. Airbus A330-300 Cessna Citation X Lancair Evolution Cirrus SR22 Grumman F-14 Tomcat Robinson R22 Beta II Piper PA-18 Super Cub Van's Aircraft RV-10 Aero-Works Aerolite 103 Beechcraft Baron 58 Beechcraft King Air C90B Cirrus Vision SF50 McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II McDonnell Douglas MD-82 Schleicher ASK 21 Stinson L-5 Sentinel Boeing 737-800 Cessna 172 SP Sikorsky S-76 A330-300 The Airbus A333 is the new primary banner default aircraft for X-Plane 12. For a default aircraft it is exceptional, but currently still comes with only a basic FMS. An authentic Thales System has been announced as in the works, notably it should be installed before X-Plane 12 goes final. Cessna Citation X Most exciting in this X-Plane release is the Citation X. This is one seriously nice aircraft, and has separate control systems (left and right) and it is extremely nicely detailed. Lancair Evolution EVOT-850 This Evolution is a direct copy of (Laminar Research) Austin Meyer's personal aircraft and you also get Austin Myer's himself in the pilot's seat. It comes with a powerful Pratt & Whitney PT6A-135A turboprop aircraft engine, 750 hp (560 kW) and G1000 Avionics. Cirrus SR22 The Cirrus SR22 is a single-engine four- or five-seat composite aircraft built from 2001 by Cirrus Aircraft. It is powered by a 310 hp (231 kW) Continental IO-550-N piston engine and G1000 Avionics. Again Austin Myer's himself is in the pilot's seat, and the aircraft is very popular with "Round the World" fliers. Grumman F-14 Tomcat Yes Mr "Top Gun" himself in the F-14 Tomcat is part of the new default aircraft list. The F-14 is an American carrier-capable supersonic, twin-engine, two-seat, twin-tail, variable-sweep wing fighter aircraft. Robinson R22 The Robinson R22 is a two-seat, two-bladed, single-engine light utility helicopter manufactured by Robinson Helicopter Company. Here it comes in two versions with skids or pontoons. Piper PA-18 Super Cub The Piper PA-18 Super Cub is a two-seat, single-engine monoplane. Introduced in 1949 by Piper Aircraft. Here it comes with the larger "Bush", tyres or "Tundra" option. Van's Aircraft RV-10 The Van's Aircraft RV-10 is a four-seat, single-engine, low-wing homebuilt airplane sold in kit form by Van's Aircraft. It is the first four-seat airplane in the popular RV series. It is powered by a Lycoming O-540 six-cylinder, air-cooled aircraft engine, 260 hp (190 kW) and G1000 Avionics. The "Extra Aircraft" folder has now been retired, this included the B52G, B747-100, C-130, Columbia 400, MD KC-10, Space Shuttle and the X-15. First Impressions of X-Plane 12 This article isn't a summary or even an in-depth evaluation of the new version of the X-Plane Simulator in version v12. It is just an overview of what X-Plane 12 delivers and the changes between the versions. But I will add in here my first impressions, even though I have had only minimal time using it. My computer specifications have been listed at the bottom of the article and all notes here are with those specs. First of all I wasn't expecting a dynamic change like you got with X-Plane 10 or X-Plane 11 as noted at the head of this article. X-Plane 12 delivers what we expected with the current features ramped up to over a 100%. Performance is excellent and far better than I expected. I think we are seeing the results of the switch over to the Vulkan/Metal APIs in a far more refined way. Startup and responsiveness is overwhelmingly far better. From startup X-Plane 12 feels far more better put together and that is a considerable achievement in the event of the massive internal changes here, and that it all comes with a significant weather overhaul thrown in. Do your changes like changing aircraft and location and the speed is really astounding and smooth, we say the word refinement and it is already very good here and still so early in a Beta phase is very good news for Laminar Research. Everything works together very nicely, this simulator is very nice to use. If you read my specs, you will see I am marginal on the Graphic Card, and you do feel the extra work put on the card in X-Plane 12. So that will be a priority area to upgrade, and so you won't get away anymore with a weak graphic card. But a slight refinement is still needed with blurry textures at these medium settings which is actually a mirror to the same in the early X-Plane 11 Beta. My framerate is improved by around 20 fr, but notable as noted earlier by being able to remove the xEnviro environmental engine, so averages are around 45fr-50fr on these settings. Notable is that I haven't done any fine tuning yet, so these settings are basically out of the box... and I am a very happy simulator user. On features there are too many I really like, I couldn't even pick out a favorite. The weather, lighting and seasons (really all one big feature) are simply excellent, and far better than what I saw in the previews. The fauna and trees are excellent as well, and you don't have the expected frame rate hit from them I was expecting. But to note the lighting (mostly night lighting) still needs a lot more refinement. Dynamics are very good, and you do now have that same MSFS sheen or polish that was missing from X-Plane. Aircraft and Custom sceneries are extremely impressive if you have spent the money over the years. Seasons are brilliant with amazing snow coverage as is the static ice and water effects and even the rain is highly improved. Default aircraft fleet are all really good and now in areas even custom payware quality, so you are getting excellent value for money just there. Water is highly impressive as well, but I feel there is still more refinement required, shore edges are in some places are straight lines and the translucency is excellent, but in areas it needs another element as notable are the visual ships hulls in the water, were in real life they would be hidden by the waters reflective surface. ATC - Air Traffic Control I can't yet comment on as I haven't used it yet, but again the feature looks impressive out of the box. I like the dual interface and window adjustments and it looks easy and nice to use and you can use the "Speak" button realistically, dynamically of course I will test it out. I really love the translucent interface and menus. It looks and feels modern, but the actual interaction in settings and menus are exactly the same, so there is no learning curve there. I found a lot of aircraft don't translate evenly from X-Plane 11 to X-Plane 12. Virtually everything will have to be adjusted or configured for the new simulator version, that said, when configured they are excellent in the new environment. A lot of older X-Plane 10... if all aircraft of a certain age are now sadly redundant unless saved by developers. We knew that new mesh and the VFR (Visual Flight Rules) visual aspects would not change with X-Plane 12. But seeing it in the flesh is very disheartening. It feels old and out dated, if you don't have any custom scenery it doesn't look good at all. At any altitude above 10,000ft it is fine, below it is not. I feel that Laminar is going in the wrong direction, but with no VFR improvement for over a decade it is starting to show. Without MSFS 2020, X-Plane could have got away with this aspect, with MSFS... it just can't anymore. You need to be able to see items on the ground replicating real world infrastructure, and that aspect is seriously missing here, a few landmark packages Austin are just not going to cut it anymore. I don't want to end this overview on a negative note, as the X-Plane 12 Simulator has so many, many positive aspects. We never expected X-Plane 12 to be a MSFS killer, as X-Plane is a totally different philosophy to MSFS. And in every area it really is a major version step forward, and certainly brilliant value for what you get. X-Plane 12 looks and feels far more realistic, more real life and more dynamic, certainly a big step upwards to being a qualitysimulator... Overall I seriously love it. X-Plane 12 Minimum Requirements CPU: Intel Core i3, i5, i7, or i9 CPU with 4 or more cores, or AMD Ryzen 3, 5, 7 or 9. (Those with other CPUs should try the demo before purchasing.) Memory: 8 GB RAM Video Card: a Vulkan 1.3-capable video card from NVIDIA or AMD with at least 2 GB VRAM If your system is borderline, we encourage you to try the demo first. The full version of the simulator will perform exactly the same as the demo—neither better nor worse. X-Plane 12 Recommended Requirements CPU: Intel Core i5 8600k or Ryzen 5 3500 or better, or Apple Silicon Memory: 16-24 GB RAM or more Video Card: a DirectX 12-capable video card from NVIDIA or AMD with at least 4 GB VRAM (GeForce GTX 1070 or better, or similar from AMD) Supported Video Cards: NVIDIA: NVIDIA GeForce 900 or newer, driver version 510 or newer AMD: AMD Radeon RX 500 or newer, driver version Adrenaline 22.2.1or newer Supported Operating Systems: OS X: OS X 10.15 or newer (e.g. Catalina, Big Sur, or Monterey) Windows: Windows 10 or 11, 64-bit Linux: Varies If you want to run on Linux, you will need to try X-Plane on your distribution to see if it is compatible. We have developers using Ubuntu 20.04 LTS and newer successfully, however we don’t provide support for specific distributions. We require the proprietary driver from NVIDIA to run X-Plane. We require the Mesa drivers, version 22.0 or newer, for AMD to run X-Plane. X-Plane 12 (Beta) is purchased directly from Laminar Research for US$59.95 and the download file size is 82 GB X-Plane 12 Price is US$59.95 _____________________ X-Plane 12 Beta release overview by Stephen Dutton 12th September 2022 Copyright©2022: 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 M2 2TB SSD - Sound : Yamaha Speakers YST-M200SP Software: - Windows 11 - X-Plane b12.00 (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  9. NEWS! - Laminar Research releases X-Plane 12 Public Beta! Just under 6 years ago Laminar Research released the X-Plane 11 Beta on Nov 24th 2016. Here is the next numbered version of the X-Plane Simulator in X-Plane 12. Notable this is a Beta version and a digital download called "Early Access", not the full release of X-Plane 12, so expect a development run to "Final" of around three months, however this IS a public release at the cost of US59.95, a free DEMO version is also available to test your computer configuration and to try out (briefly) the next version of X-Plane. This Early Access digital edition is ideal for people who: Want to get started using X-Plane 12 immediately Have a reliable internet connection Have a computer that meets these minimum requirements Plan to use X-Plane only in their own home (see X-Plane for Professional Use for commercial use) X-Plane 12 Early Access includes: Universal platform support (Windows, Mac with Native ARM Support and Linux) Global scenery 19 high-quality aircraft with immersive 3-D cockpits Access to X-Plane 12 and 11 Free internet updates for all versions of 12.xx Highlights in X-Plane 12 include complete system overhauls for: Weather Lighting Trees & Fauna Seasons Water ATC - Air Traffic Control Sounds Systems And 7 new default aircraft Features Tropical Water Colors Gorgeous, geographically-aware water colors. 3D Forests and Vegetation Large variety of 3D trees with variation of species, size, and seasonal effects. They even sway in the wind. Ambient Sounds The entire world now comes to life with FMOD sound – birds in the forest, cars in the cities and of course, ground service vehicles. Tower Kit Custom suite of endless control tower variation, easy to use for maximal realism. Animated Jetways Jetways move to meet your aircraft when parked at the gate. Localized ATC Procedures/Voices Air Traffic Control follow regional procedures and accents around the world. Pavement Effects Airport artists can choose from a library of pavement effects to perfectly capture the look-and-feel of airports by setting level of cracking, oil spills, pavement material, and more. Volumetric 3D Clouds Immersive clouds to fully capture the sensation of flight. Real Weather Proprietary algorithms to turn data from the real world into X-Plane weather. Wake Turbulence Powerful streams of upset air left in the atmosphere by other aircraft – just like real life. Microbursts Small, powerful downdrafts – perfectly modeled with pilot training in mind. Thermals Terrain-generated updrafts that allow gilders to gain altitude without a tow plane. Snow, Rain and Ice Accumulation Precipitation now accumulates on surfaces, freezing or thawing based on temperature. X-Plane 12 Minimum Requirements CPU: Intel Core i3, i5, i7, or i9 CPU with 4 or more cores, or AMD Ryzen 3, 5, 7 or 9. (Those with other CPUs should try the demo before purchasing.) Memory: 8 GB RAM Video Card: a Vulkan 1.3-capable video card from NVIDIA or AMD with at least 2 GB VRAM If your system is borderline, we encourage you to try the demo first. The full version of the simulator will perform exactly the same as the demo—neither better nor worse. X-Plane 12 Recommended Requirements CPU: Intel Core i5 8600k or Ryzen 5 3500 or better, or Apple Silicon Memory: 16-24 GB RAM or more Video Card: a DirectX 12-capable video card from NVIDIA or AMD with at least 4 GB VRAM (GeForce GTX 1070 or better, or similar from AMD) Supported Video Cards: NVIDIA: NVIDIA GeForce 900 or newer, driver version 510 or newer AMD: AMD Radeon RX 500 or newer, driver version Adrenaline 22.2.1or newer Supported Operating Systems: OS X: OS X 10.15 or newer (e.g. Catalina, Big Sur, or Monterey) Windows: Windows 10 or 11, 64-bit Linux: Varies If you want to run on Linux, you will need to try X-Plane on your distribution to see if it is compatible. We have developers using Ubuntu 20.04 LTS and newer successfully, however we don’t provide support for specific distributions. We require the proprietary driver from NVIDIA to run X-Plane. We require the Mesa drivers, version 22.0 or newer, for AMD to run X-Plane. X-Plane 12 (Beta) Early Access is purchased directly from Laminar Research for US$59.95 X-Plane 12 Price is US$59.95 A detailed release summary is coming very soon, so check back on the site regularly for coming X-Plane 12 updates as we delve into the exciting new chapter of the X-Plane Simulator. ____________ NEWS! by Stephen Dutton 6th September 2022 Copyright©2022: 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. Dreamfoil Creations and Nemeth Designs Ecureuil AS350 B3+ There has been a Service Pack (1) released for the AS359 B3+. Mostly the pack contains fine tuning and performance updates with other items including the crew now adding weight and the Co-Pilot will disappear if you view from his seat. There are few changes are for the joystick with the reverse axis (you don't do this?... you should) and joystick functions and I agree it feels far better with movements under my Saitek x52pro setup. A full list of the changelog is at the end of this Mini Review: The Eurocopter AS350 B3 (Plus) Ecureuil (Squirrel) is a single-engined light-utility helicopter that was originally built by Aérospatiale but is now part of Eurocopter Group (Which will soon be again rebranded as Airbus Helicopters). This version is the High-performance version, is powered by an TURBOMECA-Arriel 2B1 engine equipped with a single channel (DECU) Digital Engine Control Unit with a mechanical backup system. The AS350 B3+ from Nemeth Design and DreamFoil Creations is an FSX (Nemeth Design) Helicopter that has been transfered into X-Plane10 (DreamFoil Creations). Some of the best and most successful aircraft that have come into X-Plane over the last few years have been crossover products that were created for FSX/P3D platform and are usually totally overhauled for the X-Plane10 platform. And here the AS350 B3+ is certainly the best blend of both platforms using FSX strengths are usually in the excellent 3d modeling and textures, and X-Plane's better flight dynamics and HDR features. It is best first however to explain how the AS350B3+ Helicopter is configured to understand what you are looking at. There are three standard aircraft: Basic- with no added equipment (default) Complete Medical Complete Police Both Medical and Police versions are the "complete" setup of each aircraft for its genre. This is setout in a "Equip.cfg" file that can be edited in a text editor. In this Equip.cfg file is a list of items which are: SearchLight, Hoist, WireCutters, Mirrors, LatTow, FLIR, Medical (equip) and a Basket on each side of the aircraft. Any of these items can be selected (0 = no, 1 = yes) to be put onto the aircraft, For the: Complete Medical version you have: Medical, Wirecutters, Mirrors. Complete Police version you have: Searchlight, Hoist, Wirecutters, Mirrors, LatTow, FLIR, Left/right Basket. The great thing about this Equip.cfg system is that you can change and set up the aircraft with just the equipment you want to use, and if creating a specific livery it also allows you to set out the equipment that is associated with that livery. A great feature is that you can carry a box under the helicopter swinging from the underside winch, just don't attach it up to to high winch... because it will pull the AS350 B3+ straight over? There is also a "smartmenu" that is accessed on the right-top of the glareshield of the instrument panel. This menu access makes the AS350B3+ highly equiped and detailed, walking around the aircraft in its different versions the quality and the detail is excellent. On the AS350B3+ the linkage 3d work is exceptional and intricate and all the movement animations are perfectly realistic, the main and tail rotor blades are also carbon copies of the original items. The Eurocopters fuselage and tail boom have also been very well crafted with excellent detail, The burnt crafted exhaust gives out a slight black smoke with HDR off and a heat blur with HDR on. It is very easy to set up the aircraft for a specific mission. Just selecting the Medical option will give you a full medical layout and you can select if you want a badly injured patient or not on the side stretcher by the (small) pop-up menu screen. (note: it cannot be adjusted outside the aircraft, you have to go into the 3d cockpit mode before selecting the patient). The AS350B3+ is a single pilot helicopter, and so the instrument panel is quite basic in its layout and functions. Instruments are mostly the basic set of altitude (with radio altitude), horizon, airspeed, compass, engine revolutions and clock. There is a VEMD (Vehicle Engine Monitoring Display) with Engine and Vehicle displays and both have selectable systems screens. The central equipment stack is the standard setup of a KX155A COMM (VHF/NAV2), a GTX 327 Transponder, GMA 340 Radio, standard Garmin GNS 430 and a ADF panel. Lower down is the central console with a very easy to navigate SCU panel with buttons for most of the main functions on the aircraft like lights, DCT/BAT, Avionics, winch (outside) a set of trim controls and a great test function If the FLIR attachment is operational then on the left side of the panel you get a Infrared screen that works in the day or night, it is highly adjustable as well in movement including zoom. Cyclic is beautifully made and adjustable for friction at its base. The Collective is functional as well with a lock - hydraulic isolation and Search-light (toggle) switch, all other cockpit items including the rudder pedals are worn and realistic. Overhead is a light, the rotor-brake and the fuel valve switches (on/off) and an optional headset.(a note is that you need to flick the grey switch on the rotor-brake to start the engine). Panel night lighting is selected by buttons on the SCU panel and you can adjust the brightness on the main panel. If FLIR is attached the the night-screen glows green in the cockpit and which is highly effective. Outside lighting consists of two underside lights (one taxi - one landing) and the usual, beacon, strobe and navigation lights... a major feature is the spot-light that is positioned just under the rear of the main cabin. You can select specific controls (In the "buttons Basic" menu) to turn the spotlight on/off (also on the collective) and set up a hat switch to rotate it around and up and down, with the HDR on it is highly effective. There are 9 liveries included. But the first three are the "Standard" versions in Basic, Complete Medical and Complete Police as noted above. The other six are: Medical 1 Medical 2 Police 1 Police 2 PP-EOY Transport 1 Sounds on the AS350 are excellent as Dreamfoil created the DreamEngine sound engine, so you expect the sounds on this Eurocopter to be good, and here it does not disappoint. You get 3D positional sound, 3D coning,here yo have layered sounds with the doppler effect and the DreamEngine can hold up 128 different sound sources. One of the best features with the AS350 from Nemeth Design and DreamFoil Creations is that you can select Arcade Mode... ... So simply put is that Arcade Mode will take out all the real aircraft reactions and replace them with more sedate versions. But I found the mode more realistic than that. In fact because it dumbs down the movements you can understand the way helicopters behave a little better. you do still have to fly the machine the same way even with the arcade mode switched off as with it on, but it makes it easier to anticipate the machine's movements in both modes, which means what you learn flying the helicopter in Arcade mode is then very easily translated into normal vertical fight flying, Arcade mode is really like having training wheels for helicopters as it sits between starting to fly and learning of how-to-control the helicopter - but with out the full agony of crash after crash after crash. Conclusions The Eurocopter AS350 B3+ was released in April 2013, and like many new Add-On's, some can take time to understand in depth. This aircraft is so multifaceted that it can take a while before you explore all of its talents and combinations. Flying the AS350B3+ is a learning curve as well, in the normal mode it is a tricky beast to learn, but that is the nature of the beast as well. Get it right and the rewards are outstanding and you keep wanting to go back for more. Helicopters are like that, they are highly addictive because they demand skill and precision to fly correctly. And you have to process that information and practise the skills to get to a high level. The creators of the AS350 B3+ have created a very highly tuned machine to fly with skill. But have still given you a get out clause with the Arcade Mode to learn without failing. In that it is possible for anyone to fly this aircraft even if you don't have the time to get perfection. For me, I can fly to Zermatt (Switzerland) and land on a platform that in real life looks impossible to achieve. I can do it in Normal mode, but Arcade Mode can make it possible for anyone to achieve the same results. The aim is not to be lazy and stay in Arcade Mode for life, but to go beyond its training limits and progress to the normal mode. And that sums up the aircraft, It is very highly crafted with incredible textures and modeling, If you want the detail and the perfect recreation of the Squirrel AS350 with a huge feature list, then you won't find a better Helicopter... But it is still very accessable to anyone and anyone can fly it.... For value it is outstanding. Documents: There are three manuals with the aircraft. AS350_Manual (22 Pages) AS350_Procedures (12 Pages) FAQ (2 Pages) Price is US$34.95 and is available from the .Org Store : Eurocopter AS350 B3 Plus Updated store# Mini-Review by Stephen Dutton Developer Site: Dreamfoil-Creations 8th August 2013 Service Pack 1 (changelog) - Fixed memory leak on DreamEngine, used to cause crash after few reloads. - Fixed issue with livery load for null paths, was causing CTD randomly at reload or aircraft change. - Improved DreamEngine camera transitions - Added RMI on ADF - ALT mode fixed on transponder - Improved Autorotations - Fixed incorrect pitch for tail rotor animation - Fixed GPS NAV1/VLOC frequency range - Fixed issue with reverse for axis on the joystick - Copilot and Patient now automatically add weight to CREW - Fixed 1 Blade out of tracking at low rpm caused by wrong plugin calcuations - Fixed Trim that caused rotor disc to tilt right - Improved cockpit vibrations - Replaced the joystick functions, works better and without jitter - Mouse work as control again - Improved cyclic 3d model (its now twisted as real one) - Fixed HSI Flags - Fixed LIT problem on OAT gauge - Improved Radar ALT night texture - Improved Governor Performance - Copilot disappear when you¥re with view on his position - Added Yaw String Review System Specifications: Computer System: - 2.66 Ghz Intel Core i5 iMac 27” - 6 Gb 1067 Mhz DDR3 - ATI Radeon HD 4850 512mb Software: - Mac OS MountainLion 10.8.2 - X-Plane 10 Global ver 10.22 (final) - ExtremeSceneryMAXX Addons - Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick and Throttle
  11. News! - Laminar Research : X-Plane12 Preview Just yesterday I did a full evaluation of the Simulation situation current to date in this year 2021, in our monthly "Behind The Screen" (May) edition. And lo and behold the next day out comes a preview video titled "X-Plane Technology Preview One"... did Laminar read our summation? I doubt it, but it does note the date, in that this weekend the original FlightSimExpo 21 was to have been held in San Diego (4th-6th June) that has now been rescheduled for September 24-26, 2021. Was this weekend originally supposed to have been an announcement on the release of X-Plane12 (or whatever it may be called). The video highlights the new existing lighting with a completely new photometric lighting mode. This is a new engine to create atmosphere and cloud light scattering and color depend on atmosphere quality, weather conditions and the time of day. I had to live with the bland current X-Plane11 lighting effects for many months until I could then reuse the xEnviro plugin in Vulkan, and it is very boring and flat. And that is the point, you can have these effects now if you use the expensive xEnivro addon, so the new effects are actually to me old news, sorry to burst your bubble Laminar. But that is not to say the new lighting mode is not welcome. In having used xEnviro, you simply cannot live without the feel and dynamic density of PBR lighting effects, the bonus is that with them coming to the default simulator, it does get around the the major xEnviro issue of recreating the weather conditions manually, which is impossible to do in xEnviro. The main advantage though is the quality sheen you will get in the simulator, the lighting conditions in xEnviro is simply overwhelming in look and feel. Users are already worried the framerate hit, they may get with the new effect engine, but the reality is, you will get that hit no matter where you go, 3rd party addons or in the default simulator, but the bonus is that the Laminar effects will be far more finely tuned to fit, so I expect the actual framerate hit to be quite low, and it depends also on if Laminar use the more dense 3rd clouds or more modern cloud effect engine. So no matter how you twist the situation, X-Plane12 will require a computer update (certainly if you are using a pre teen computer) in the context that you can't simply expect that old machine to cover the modern requirements. Basically the video is a good start, and more videos are noted as coming (soon?), but details like will X-Plane12 use Spherical buffers, or Seasons or even just realistic active weather are still to be announced. Volumetric cloud systems that uses a three-dimensional volume texture that is ray-marched to represent cloud layers in real-time is already in X-Plane, but are currently highly ineffective and limited in their effects, such as Cloud Occlusion and Shadowing, which is hopeless in X-Plane, but quite good in xEnviro. So the video shows the better quality you can get with photometric lighting, and it will be obviously interesting to see and use in the simulator. We all wait with bated breath... its a start! ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 2nd June 2021 Copyright©2021: 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. Laminar Research : X-Plane 11.30 Analysis On Friday 25th October 2018 (US time) Laminar Research released the next version of X-Plane11. This is version 11.30, and as per all new releases this originally was the beta test version of the simulator. You could get the test beta version via the "beta" checkbox on the X-Plane Installer app. (Steam users were excluded). The full release of X-Plane 11.30 is now (final) and is available for download (Steam users update is to follow) and you can update to 11.30 by doing an "Update X-Plane" on the Installer app. Officially on release it is version 11.30b1 or by my moniker 11.30 2.0. As this is a very significant update, and will certainly be a companion the coming Vulkan update now noted for 2019 if targeted for Q2 or mid-year which will be a noted another significant milestone for the simulator. That is a yes in performance, but the ground work for that Vulkan version is actually built into this 11.30 update and so this is in reality the really important one. As with most groundwork code you will very rarely see it, but as I noted earlier this year it is in that the whole internal structure of the simulator that is currently undergoing a total revolutionary change as it is significantly being rebuilt from the ground up or inside out, so it is just not about Vulkan/Metal we are talking about here but the whole complete internal X-Plane code structure itself that is undergoing an extensive transformation to another new era.... "Yes Jim, it is X-Plane, but not as we know it". And so in this 11.30 beta you are starting to feel it's presence, as the changes do however pop up here and there, but mostly they are still all still well hidden and buried from view. This approach can make many users think that it is only what they can see is only what has only been changed, but also a lot of this analysis can't be revealed until other parties (i.e. developers) start to use and mostly adjust their products to take advantage of the full suite available of the new features and ideas presented here, in fact it will be months long after 11.30 has gone final in that it will be then that everyone realises the large effect this version will have on X-Plane. Obviously the special effects noted below will come in all shapes and sizes and many will be totally (even stupidly) overdone, but in many ideas it will be also very clever (as X-Plane users can be) and show off how good the simulator has become. Since the release of X-Plane11 and in many respects the simulator has already changed totally beyond our original expectations, now here there is the start another level of transformation that has got even the most hardened FSX/P3D users wondering what baby they are now left with to hold on to. Internal changes 11.30 is the first installment of API (Application Programming Interface) changes that will switch from the older OpenGL API to the new Vulkan (Windows/Linux)/Metal (Mac) API's. This is to update the simulator to work far better with more modern hardware in processors and graphic cards (a graphic card moniker is really a bit outdated now? as they are more now the size of a mini-computer itself and than be rather of what the installed graphic engine producing machinery really is). Originally we expected that the new Vulcan/Metal API's to all come in together with one major update, but the introduction here shows that is not the case as the API's can be introduced in blocks of areas, and it may also serve as a good test on how X-Plane itself responds to the changes out here in complex-land before going in for the full change over API deal. You may find the API change over in not one but maybe even as many as four updates to complete the full API changeover, you could with this release to note it as the block 1 release. The area most affected in v11.30 is the shader system, so it has been completely totally Vulkanised because it won't work with the .glsl format, so it was changed early. There are huge bonuses here as well, in that the older slideshow shader system was pretty crappy anyway, slow, not very realistic and even really annoying as the light faded or increased in brightness in the significant changes from one shader to the next. The new system uses a very much larger spectrum of shades, it is also quite complex and even fully updatable. More interesting is the new shader system is now off limits to the tinkerers, so you won't be getting loads of experimental shader downloads any more, as there was a full X-Plane industry running on that side of the simulator. An interesting side point is that Laminar note the new (and very complex) shader system will get intermittent updates as the shader system can be refined or reshaded to match conditions and on the fly with updates, which is a sort of window to what to expect from all the different areas of X-Plane in the future, this new feature is one of the most important to understand, because it is the future in not only for its assembly in Vulkan but also in the way it brings in a much more different engine into the original X-Plane machine. So you are starting to see the future changes of X-Plane happening right here, and right now in this version 11.30 update... think of it more like the windows ongoing system updates than major releases. One of the biggest first impressions of beta 11.30 was how brighter it all was, and the change of the basic X-Plane background in light and colours. Besides the actual new shader system, 11.30 has had a lot of fine tuning of the PBR (Physically Based Rendering) effects as well, this is noticeable in those sudden light to dark light changes in the cockpit, that were just as (if not more) annoying as the slideshow in the dawn and dusk periods. Seriously impressive the shaders are... lighting changes are minimal and the only way to see the actual lighting shader movements now is via speeding up the simulator to fast forward. Does the PBR still pop!, unfortunately yes it does and sometimes in a dramatic annoying way, but it also shows the PBR can be fine-tuned... I just don't think this area is the focus for Laminar right now. What strikes you the most though is the sheer smoothness of the simulator, it felt almost quite crude before to what you are experiencing now. Yes you will still get pauses (as scenery loads) and the odd pause as X-Plane shifts from one tile to the other which is still a major obstacle for ultimate smoothness, but that constant shutter and stutter in flight is gone, and it now all feels far more linear. I lost 2fr -4fr frames in the changeover as my 11.30 beta download was nearly 2gb, but I expect to claw that back and far more with the full Vulkan conversion later in the year, but that minimal framerate loss is somehow eliminated because the simulator seems to be not working as hard to achieve the same results, hence the smoothness. Everything feels sharper, cleaner than before. I will note that the framerate was better in the beta 11.30b2 than b1 and more gains came in v11.30b6 (b4 and b5 were absolute duds), but it all came good again in b6 and b7... by the RCs (Release Candidates) 11.30 was excellent. The star patterns at night are back, yes they were fixed before 11.30, but now you can actually see them feel them now while traveling at night, and with the even more refined night ground patterns, it is like X-Plane9 all over again, but far better... yeah! It certainly all bodes well for the future. Particle Effects Yes the showstopper! The particle effect generator has been in development hell for as long as I can possibly remember. "It's coming" was the usual mantra in X-Plane version release after version release, but now it is finally here... was it worth the wait? Of course it was. Like a lot of areas in b11.30 it is important to understand that although the current aircraft all work with the new particle effect engine, most of the aircraft have not been adjusted to get the best of the effects just yet, which it is like when the FMOD sound engine was first introduced... so every aircraft will have to be tailored to the effects engine to get the very best out of the effects, and then some more. Because certainly many developers will want to push the boundaries on what can actually be achieved with the custom particles. It is certainly an exciting time to be in that scenario. Vortices are amazing... and a far cry from the old smoke effect. They are extraordinary at night, as you can see the trail standing rearwards in the turn, as they dissipate of where they stand, and then fade away realistically back slowly into the sky. It is in the subliminal as not the direct effects that the effect change the nature of the simulator. The engine heat blur is excellent as the haze unfocuses the background with absolute realism. You knew something was missing before, and now you realise what that "something" actually was... realism. The biggie effect was always going to be fire. X-Plane already had a sort of animated fire effect, but not the adjustable realistic effect of fire. Now here it is and it lives up to it's dramatic entrance. The are different types of (particle) emitters from smoke, haze to fire and different styles for say streaming continuous smoke or for violent explosions, other effects cover wing vortices, engine blast, tyre contact smoke and wing, engine cowl condensation. The Particle Effects will have a multitude of uses within X-Plane, but currently they are restricted to only aircraft use, and with the odd ground explosion. This has been highlighted by the issues during the beta of smoke or particles in the aircraft (cockpits!)and not the filtering out of the new elements, and more fine tuning of the contrails in certain lighting conditions are still required. But static ground objects will soon have access to the same effects which will be interesting. As a note I never really took to the old X-Plane smoking "puff, puff" chimney effect, I thought they didn't look very realistic and even looked cartoony awful. However I really like the idea more of a hazy chimney or a steam (power plant) effect than the usual and expected black puffing variety. All elements for developers (or anyone) are accessed by the new "Particle System Editor" in the "Developer" X-Plane menu and the layout and the use is very similar to the FMOD sound editor. Access to the various elements are through the particle system definition files (.pss files), which brings up an editor to create, adjust and even delete the particle elements set out in the texture menu. A full dynamic adjustment of : rate, speed, velocity, pitch, heading, size, Alpha and Lifetime (Seconds) are available via keyframes of the all these different elements. ATC Voices A surprise feature included in v11.30 was the new A.I. based ATC voices. There was a comment about these new speech tools by Chris Serio in the mid-year Q&A session, but we never expected the actual release until in 2019, or even longer. The new ATC system now builds up real commands and sentences, as was in the older current version in that the ATC as it was then built up around .wav files to say they were very stilted conversations was an underestimation. But the main problem with this system was it was totally inflexible and very limited in speech capacity. So the new way is to use a text to speech (TTS) engine that is used in Amazon Alexia and Google Voice and of which are both a development of the Dragon NaturallySpeaking speech recognition software. TTS can learn and be adjusted on the fly and you will be even able to contribute to the engine. So instead of the older communications of just the repetitive "X-Ray, Beta two five.. Runway five left" you can or will have "Speedbird 231, taxi cleared to runway five left"... The ATC system will learn and grow and get better as does all current TTS software working now. The system will be also able to work with a multitude of different voices and not just the current male and female choice or no choice at all. Accents in regional or national voices will be available as well as the ATC is more fully developed. Obviously the ATC voice system is still only very limited to the style and the current natural feel vocally until the full ATC system is intergrated later, but it does show that the pace of development is certainly taking place and going forward, which also means that the full ATC feature should be expected during a beta run in 2019. 11.30 Systems and Avionics Phillipp Ringler outlined the extensive navigation and avionics coming in 11.30 in the Vegas seminar. Ringler's overhaul of the X-Plane navigation and avionic areas since becoming part of the main Laminar team have been a total revolution in detail, dynamics and data use and most notably the GNS 430/530 pair, G1000 and the native X-Plane FMS. Certainly Phillipp's unique talents has certainly totally enhanced the basic avionics of the simulator. With the main navigation elements in now place (although I do find the main FMS still a bit wanting in detail), his attention has moved on to the more cosmetic areas of the systems and most notably the Autopilot. So 11.30 comes now with brand autopilots that can installed in your GA aircraft. These include the position based units GFC-700, KFC-250/Century and the rate-based S-TEC 55, KAP-140 and the Piper Autocontrol. The autopilots come as single or dual axis and with or without altitude select and also with or without electric trim functions. The GFC-700 Autopilot is also now part of the G1000 system, which is a high-end position-based digital autopilot, and the new version is now giving the G1000 more realistic capabilities. The Piper Autocontrol Autopilot is a generic low-tech non-microprocessor autopilot, and this AP can be either rate-based or position-based and has the usual dual-axis modes, but does not have any logic for automatic mode reversions. The AP modes are obviously quite basic as all Laminar default systems are, but entirely usable and effective. Here is the S-TEC 55 (C172SP) and the KAP-140 which are the most popular and both can be set as noted with/without altitude preset. One major surprise is that the AP panels don't pop-out?.. ... as with the already branded C90 Collins APS-65 (below) it is impossible to use effectively without a pop-up panel, as the distance from the AP panel to the navigation display on this aircraft is very wide... an oversight? Airliner autopilot systems have also been upgraded as auto-throttle can now use both N1/EPR modes, Control Wheel Steering (CWS) (yoke movements to adjust pitch, mostly on older aircraft), Master FD (Flight Director) or source selection, duel and triple channel preconditions and checks (computers compare two or three channels of data and select the best option), flare and roll out guidance and a three axis DAS/Data Acquisition Systems. GPSS autopilot mode is also now available. All these AP operations are quite comprehensive but mostly hidden, but you will suddenly find you will have more options and get closer to the real world operations of flight deck autopilots once their features start to flow through to the aircraft. In 11.30 system changes the areas focused on have been for the more realistic oxygen systems and anti-ice/de-ice systems, and the propeller itself now has four different propeller failure modes of fine pitch, anti-feathering springs and the full feather position... as not on all aircraft if when the engine fails does the propeller go straight to full feather mode and auto-feather. Also included are more extensive systems to replicate the unfeathering of the propeller realistically with pumps and negative torque sensing, and also fuel-topping and overspeed governors, vacuum gyro limitations and caging is now also being available. With the release of 11.30 Phillipp Ringler is also now responsible for these system changes besides the avionics portfolio which was once the domain of Austin Meyer, so expect more extensive and thankfully more speedier changes to aircraft systems than was the case in the past. While in the realm of systems, in that X-Plane is now also 8.33kHz aware. The old 25kHz spacing has been divided by three 25/3 = 8.33333. to allow more channels to be used which will help in congested airspaces, it became mandatory in Europe as of January 2018 if you are flying in controlled airspace in Europe, as you must have now an 8.33kHz radio to meet that mandate, as you now do also in X-Plane 11.30. The panel resolution has be enlarged to 4K (4096x4096) to get rid of poor resolution text and give a better quality fascia, which is another step away from the original X-Plane standards. Flight Model Although X-Plane is known for its incredible ability to simulate real airflow and air dynamics through its “blade element theory” calculations, it is still not the full range of forces on the aircraft while flying through the air, or on the ground. The aerodynamic basics are of course correct, but in the last few years Laminar has been focusing on more detail of the more secondary forces that affect the aircraft. To that end Austin Meyer has been doing some pretty outlandish if quite bizarre experiments with a Telsla S car to get more realistic data on fuselage, wing forces (post stall), inboard wing air dynamics (the join between the wing and fuselage), propwash and helicopter downwash and tailwash is also being done via more conventional data driven calculations and a follow on from the earlier 11.10 dynamics, as with the earlier asymmetrical new airfoil formats for Reynolds numbers (fluid flow past a body in this case an aircraft). All these new calculations are now included into PlaneMaker 11.30, but you can have the choice in to either opt in out opt out of using the data. These changes are not actually for the X-Plane simulator per se, but for more comprehensive real world data of forces that can be applied to the aircraft's airfoils and wing forces, and PlaneMaker will now do a batch convert to the new settings, but also show you where your drag was not realistic. This aspect is to find a more realistic feel with say the landing and flare dynamics, and with an emphasis on post stall drag factors which are still X-Plane's main limitations, as also for better helicopter downwash and tailwash dynamics which are also currently still not totally highly realistic. My personal beef on this has been the ground friction (or grip) that seems lacking in the simulator... or in other words the weaving and poor tracking on the ground when taking off or landing as I just don't feel that rubber contact grip that I expect to be real world realistic. So has that aspect been fixed or at least refined better than the last set of changes? again personally I don't think so, but in reality the jury is still out on that aspect, it depends on if the 11.30 default aircraft have been updated to the new aerodynamic data, if so then the answer is no, but it will be extremely interesting when the developers do their own calculations... they know their numbers far better than the default aircraft developers as in reality Laminar default aircraft at their heart are quite simple, it will be the specialist developers that will refine and home the data closer to the real world conditions, so when the top payware releases come around after 11.30 goes final then that will be interesting and ralso eflected in the reviews and I will certainly be focusing hard on that aspect. Ditto for helicopters, once say a top helicopter developer like say Dreamfoil does the new 11.30 downwash and rotor dynamics will we see if the improvements are actually realistic. A side note to that is the new "joystick curves" see below... in fine tuning your hardware gear to be also more refined in their inputs. So the changes in 11.30 are actually quite extensive in these areas, but again to stress that you won't see any of these extensive benefits until the developers sort out their own flight model calculations and dynamics to match the more comprehensive flight modeling avaliable to them. Late in the beta run (RC 1) Laminar also inserted the Toe-Brake option for users that have NO hardware (i.e. Rudder Pedals) in controlling aircraft such as tail-draggers, which are notorious to control currently. Previous versions of X-Plane we had this automatic toe-brake behavior that was automatically applied based on some rules that were originally coded into X-Plane. Now aircraft authors can now explicitly control whether toe brakes are auto-applied for users without hardware, and if so, how aggressively. This control is auto-populated for older aircraft with the choices set for X-Plane 11.26 and earlier versions. Engine Improvements Austin Meyer since the start of the X-Plane 11.00 version has been focusing on more realistic engine dynamics. Earlier focus (11.26) was on turbine outputs, specifically in single turbo-turbine outputs. In 11.30 the focus is more of the same but more on the larger jet-turbine aircraft (B737/A320). Believe it or not until 11.30 both the twin-spool tracking of the n1 and n2 engine outputs was done not separately, but notably as one joined calculation. But now it is possible to select both single or twin-spool jets in Plane-Maker to really get the jet engine dynamics (output numbers) better in the spool-up and spool-down phases, and watching N2 lead the N1 output on the spool-up, or the other way around on the spool-down. And the engine output modeling has also be validated of real engine starts and throttle run-ups and shut-downs taken on a (real) Airbus A-320 for realism. (throttle input/output data was a real mess on the release of X-Plane 11.00) Specifically the area noted is the improved Jet 1 spool. Again Jet 1 spool in X-Plane is currently still very basic and the data comes actually from the earlier (now really outdated) X-Plane releases .This current model always has the N1 spinning at a ratio to N2 that was a simple power curve. This is good enough to mimic a real jet engine which was in the past sort of close, if you don’t look at how fast the various turbines spin up and down compared to each other. Jet 2 spool is also a new jet engine model for X-Plane as well with N2 is the power turbine is in the hot section, and it spins up and down as fuel is applied. and is independent of the N1 that is spun by the torque generated from N2, spinning the bypass fan. So a more accurate model, taking into account that the N2 can surge while N1 takes some time to respond, and N1 can windmill briskly even if N2 is shut down and is barely spinning. You can see where all this is going with more internal engine dynamics being realistic in the simulator, and with N1/N2 windmilling which are now more accurate as well. This new modeling should also be more specific in the cruise phase as well. There has been also focus on fine tuning and the modeling of actual dynamic pressure and the resulting Bernoulli effects in the Venturi tube itself to see when ice will form, this will give you a more realistic feedback on ice formations as the Bernoulli principle applies to the motion of air over an airplane wing, to air flow through a carburetor, to the flag flapping in the breeze, and to the low pressure systems in hurricanes. The earlier focus on PT6 turboprops still continues in 11.30, which now in the new model, of which is more accurate and very carefully matched to real PT6 performance. This uses now N2 for Ng which is more accurate, of which there is also now a new manifold pressure model for non-turbo airplanes. The new functionality now allows the simulator understand that lower back-pressure at altitude for non-turbo airplanes provides a bit more power per inch of manifold pressure... all in the quest for realism. Garrett turboprops (Honeywell TPE331) that is an fixed turbo-prop engine that is used extensively with X-Plane aircraft like with the Dornier Do 228/King Airs/Turbo-Commanders is next on the list after the PT6 for the same intensive attention. Aircraft There was a lot of noise in discussion of an F-14 (Tomcat) in pre-release notes, but the actual F-14 Laminar default aircraft didn't appear in the 11.30 release, but is that a spelling mistake? Could it be the F-4 Phantom that has had all the attention and could it all be just misleading? Including the noted F-14 above there was no new aircraft released in 11.30, but a few aircraft had some significant work done on them... obviously the Cessna 172SP was given a lot of attention to highlight most of 11.30's new features including the new S-Tec autopilot (above) and performance/tuning gains. The Boeing 737-800 is of course the showcase aircraft for X-Plane11, so besides the new performance, particle effects and new triple-channel autopilot features the aircraft also acquired something special... ... a cabin! But not just a filler cabin, but a full and very detailed cabin. And it puts even most payware cabins to shame... yes it is that good. At night the internal lighting is even better to sensational with the "Sky Interior" theme... ... even if the Austin Meyer graphic is a bit cheeky, the detailing is just as good in the excellent and realistic galleys that are also payware quality. With the internal structure in place (cabin) then you can also have opening doors as well... ... even if they are not actually attached to the aircraft? and they are hard to open in all have to manhandled directly, I am not sure if the cargo doors open? but the cargo internal 3d containers are in there, so if not now, then certainly the cargo doors will open in the future... obviously still a WIP. Boeing 747-400 has had attention as well... as neglect goes it was way on the top of the list, in fact it was totally unflyable as I found out earlier last year... which is certainly not good enough for an aircraft that is there to promote the simulator. The bug XPD-9644 "747 catches on fire in replay" said it all. In a short flight I found the 747 aircraft at least now usable. there are important elements still missing like the heading pointer on the rose navigation display, but "hey who needs that!" but a lot of the major issues have been addressed including the reverse thrust (yes you need the reverse thrust as well!)... it is flyable... maybe even usable for a long haul, I'll do a route and see how it all goes. Autogen While you have been flying around overhead, then Laminar Research has been very busy filling in your autogen. Europe got the treatment back in the v11.25 release. This is mostly to fill in Urban Industrial Autogen aspect and in 11.30 the US got the same makeover, and it is all pretty impressive, although here it is a much more dirtier and darker theme than the steel and glass of Germanic Europe. Government buildings with the old PWA Moderne 30's 40's styling, glass office towers and excellent modern residential buildings now fill a large area of your X-Plane autogen landscape... even Ben Supnic has now got his own Computer outlet chain! along side the usual US fast food outlets. Building quality is also high class and it all comes with great nightlighting detail as well East US coast New Jersey terraced housing is also now visible and it is again highly detailed. Urban industrial is now also filling in nicely those empty grey spaces, and it is all very highly detailed. And while you are flying around, then the kids can have a go on the swings. Still no churches though? I always get a little annoyed when the scenery developers cover over this expansive quality autogen for something usually quite flat and average with mostly poor orthophoto textures, why not take advantage of the already comprehensive tools the simulator delivers... you won't find better. Landmarks Dubai has been added into the landmark list with two buildings now present... The tallest (for now) building in the world with the Burj Khalifa and the sail like Burj Al Arab, but the modeling comes with no Jumeirah hotel at the rear. Both landmarks are well done, but feel a bit lonely as being the only buildings sitting in a vast landscape, no tall city Dubai autogen and only housing leaves them markedly exposed. User Interface U.I. Some fine tuning of the U.I. interface includes options to enlarge font sizes and the new layout to configure joystick curves in more detail with the option to set the joystick curves per axis., and users can also now submit joystick config files. Other items on the interface include new added sector altitudes in the VFR map. U.I. Options to enlarge the U.I. font size. You are now able to re-enabling of the notification windows that have a “don’t show this again” checkbox and the situation files can now get you close to the landmarks for quick sight seeing. X-Plane data The default simulator data has been updated its airspace to 2018 & Navigraph default data 1708. Which is out of date unless you have an account for the latest cycle (1901) 3rd Jan 19 - 31st Jan 19, but at least it isn't years old. And the total Global Airport count with 3-D scenery in the 11.30r1 release is now 8247. Summary For all its new features and tools, X-Plane 11.30 is a still a bit like an iceburg, there is a little bit sticking up out of the water, but with a lot going on in size under the surface. It will be months and even months before X-Plane users will get the full effect of the update as the developers adjust to the new tools and feature details. We also have to get used to the delay of change than the usual instant gratification of an update and that instant wow factor... like the new autogen in 11.30, it sort of creeps up on you now more than coming in an explosion and all of a sudden you realise that just how much more expansive, responsive and smoother the simulator all is, and just thinking back to even the release version of X-Plane11 you then realise how far the simulator has come in just two years, it makes X-Plane10 now feel almost arcane. And that change didn't come either with huge system or framerate set of penalties, as if you only have even still a fair 4K graphic card you will still find a lot of efficiency. This is also again the underlying factor of this 11.30 update, efficiency, but with not yet getting the full effects of the Vulcan/Metal API core changes. Yes some parts and others are now operating on Vulkan API, like the new shader system... but overall it is all still very much a Work In Progress, as noted... 11.30 is just block 1 of many components that will probably go in and keep going in right up to the X-Plane12 new version release. Highlight visually in 11.30 is of course the Particle Effects and their earth wind and fire elements. Yes it is nice to have them back and it will be interesting to see how the developers use the editor skillfully to use their maximum effect. Scenery particle effects are coming soon. ATC A.I. Voices were a nice surprise but limited until the rest of the ATC is intergrated, as is the nice finer details of new autopilots and avionics, Flight modeling has again improved upon earlier changes with even more adjustments available as has deeper engine modeling and this time focusing on larger jet engine output. Default aircraft had all the above features inserted and with that bonus cabin on the Boeing 737-800. 2018 saw the X-Plane simulator finally shake off it's "hobbist" tag and with respect... thus 11.30 update again pushes the boundaries higher and better again, but this version update is however not a final solution waiting for the next update, but part of a simulator in transition, but a transition that will build it into a far higher platform of a quality and an extremely efficient simulation platform... the words "head and Shoulders" and "above" start to come to mind. _________________________ X-PlaneReviews can't cover absolutely every change or bug fix with the version update, and so the 11.30 Release notes are available here at the Laminar Research Development pages: X-Plane 11.30 Release Notes X-Plane 11.30 is available now for download. Run your X-Plane installer application or download from Steam. ______________________________________________________________________ Analysis review by Stephen Dutton 12th January 2019 Copyright©2019: 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)
  13. Laminar Research : X-Plane 11 and future new simulator features Every year at the FlightSimCon in the New England Air Museum at Windsor Locks, CT. Laminar Research gives out a demonstration of the coming beta (10.50) and shows off the new developments that are coming (soon) to the X-Plane simulator. Every year you check in and bite your nails and wonder what goodies are soon to come and what the future holds in store of the changes to the simulator, as promises are made and the swirling rumors are put to rest. A lot we already know about of course but until you see the ideas actually delivered or in development then anything is just that in free talk or as they say in this business it is all just "vaporware" or a lot of hot air. So what did FlightSimCon deliver in the show this year, well a lot actually and all of it is very good stuff, and even maybe a glimpse of X-Plane 11. Is that an official announcement of X-Plane 11? I don't actually think it is, but then Laminar Research is like that, it could be or it could be just new stuff for later beta's of X-Plane 10. I put my past bet's on X-Plane 11 coming next year in 2017 folks, but these developments showing up here at FlightSimCon are too far down the road and too complete for another full year and a half of development, so I will note that X-Plane 11 will be maybe coming at the end of 2016, or around thanksgiving this year, unless there is far more to do in other added features for the next release version of the simulator. At first glance the new features (X-Plane 11?) are exceptional, really good and will certainly keep X-Plane at the forefront of being one of the best simulators available today... So what are the highlights... New X-Plane Interface We all know that Austin and Company wanted to badly change the Startup and Menu interface to get away from the old fashioned top dropdown menu system. The biggest criticism of most new adopters of X-Plane was the interface was hard to use and out of date. (it isn't when you understand it) but in this world of visual graphics to denote aspects of selection then the startup and menu interface has been totally redone. And yes it has the wow factor. (Note all images come from the video and so they are a little blurry, but you will get the overall idea). You will soon get four options on restarting X-Plane... Resume Last Flight Start New Flight Load Saved Flight Flightschool This is a huge jump from the original setup in that when restarting you can actually now go straight back to where you left off after the last shutdown and just not to only a set up of a new flight. Yes you can use the "save situation" but who actually uses that? I love this option, you will be also able to go straight to a replay as well, so a great start there. Aircraft selection is going to be really good, but as we know it also does depend now on if the aircraft files have the correct aircraft icon attached, by the images shown here it looks like a different arrangement and very much like a planemaker image.... interesting. Note the "Favorite" star on the top right to create a favorite aircraft list! Weight and Balance can be set directly from the menu as well, It would be a nice feature if the settings are set and saved with that particular aircraft selected as well. Side panels on the right show you your airport selection, weather and (exact) time of day, which is excellent. I don't know what is under the "Advanced" tab top right , but I hope finally the "hot" or "cold" start is included, an HDR "on" or "off" would be very nice as well. Airport selection panel is all new and really great, showing the airport selected in a layout diagram and all the possible gates and stands,. You would note you can select the gate or stand you want now, but the great new feature is that you can select the actual gate you want via pointing to it! No more going back and forth to the airport menu to find that stand or gate you actually need is situated or having to zoom in on the airport visually to note the gate or stand number, a great advance there. The weather settings panel has also been completely redone. The right side of "Atmospheric Conditions" seems to stay static, but the left changes from basic settings to more advanced weather settings as required. You can set the cloud cover by actually grabbing the cloud layer and moving it to the altitudes required from the bottom and the top, clever and easy. Two display pages for both cloud or wind layers are also available. Current "Operations and Warnings" have been changed to "General" and are just laid out better, the highlight is the "Flight Model" per frame is more precise and a now in a slider. The "show Clickable regions" and "instrument instructions" are both back in the simulator. There was no showing here of the most important panel in "Render Settings" which is the most interesting and the most (overly) used by all users. The "Joystick" set up panel is very different and well done, interesting is that it allows you to see your buttons and top-hats on the screen than just currently now as a number, which will speed up setting up the sim, a great interface and it will be interesting to see how it all works in real time. Here is a very small sneak preview of our future X-Plane interface, and it looks extremely good and well thought out... a great step forward. New Rendering Feature Second big new feature coming is what Laminar Research call "Physically Based Rendering" or "PBR" Another big gripe is that X-Plane does not have any shinyness, say like chrome. Or does not look like those armour plated games in realism. First you need to point out that X-Plane will never achieve the sort of heavy realism of "Call of Duty", "Mirror's Edge" or "Gran Turismo" et all or any other highly specialized visual heavy game. The simulator is too global, and has too many elements of addon's and plugins. X-Plane is not a local controlled environment that can focus on certain textures and 3d modeling. A few designers have created the "Shiny" look in X-Plane and to a point they have been successful, but it is not a global solution to the issue. Physically Based Rendering is. Like with the introduction of HDR or high-dynamic-range lighting, PBR takes that idea a few more steps forward. The idea is that any surface can have different reflection properties. Ben Supnik uses a brick to note that even if the brick's surface (or texture) is not shiny or even that reflective. It can however in certain lighting conditions look shiny and reflect light, so a runway that can close up look rough and have a flat matt surface reflection, at a distance though the runway can also then look actually like a reflective surface and like water. And this is the idea behind Physically Based Rendering and the way that light follows the rules of Physics. So what does this mean for X-Plane. Well it means that the reflective light can be just that in reflective, but have different properties with different conditions. Most X-Plane aircraft do to a point look quite dull, or flat in the simulator. But with the active use of PBR then they come very much more alive and look far more realistic, so note the shinyness of the fuselage of the above B737, and most notably down the side around the windows... And here on the reflective reflections on the lower part of the fuselage of the C172SP, The hull in PBR is far more distinctive and reflects the lines on the runway below it. It looks extremely realistic, and certainly PBR will give the simulator a very different look and feel, as did HDR when that was introduced with X-Plane v10 The PBR and other GPU based effects are not restricted just to aircraft but every element of X-Plane, from all surfaces to airports, buildings and street scenarios and they a great bonus for addon developers as well and PBR will actually make their work easier while delivering great effects. It is certainly a big step forward and a great one at that and will close that reality gap between the simulation based visual graphics and game based ones, the only concern is like HDR is then how much power or frame-rate will be required to process it all. Ben Supnik notes that the system is very efficient, and so we will see. New Sound Engine As we have noted lately is that really good sound is becoming a big deal in simulation. Brilliant new sound packs have no doubt really changed the way we absorb the simulation through not only with manipulation of the aircraft but also on how it feels via sounds. Laminar Research have completely redesigned the X-plane sound engine to be not only completely 3d surround sound, and with high quality samples. But have also now include many of the great sound ideas that have advanced over the years since the simulator's last major release. To a point many of the things or effects included in the new sound engine we have had for a few years now, as if you have used the excellent DreamEngine sounds or Carenado's great sounds. Most of the these ideas are already out there, but the difference is the sounds are X-Plane global and that means every aircraft or object can have great sound. The new engine also allows developers to have a far better access to the default X-Plane sound base and allowing for even more extensions on the way X-Plane uses and plays sound in the simulation. Laminar Research is also providing new tools to edit and create new sounds for the simulator, and like the rest of the features noted here, will lift the simulator up to another higher all round level of realism. If you want to watch the full set of ideas then watch the recorded video below of FlightConSim 2016... The new features start around 40.00min mark. The video also includes the soon coming release of beta 10.50! And the main changes and features noted are... New City Autogen (very good) Improved default aircraft Kingair and Baron B58 Global Winds aloft from the internet Static Aircraft and .apt changes Better ATC X-PlaneReviews will give a full review and rundown on the release of X-Plane version 10.50 when it is released and that release is noted as very, very soon, so watch this space Did anyone see the mistake on the video with the coming Scenery Gateway airports? It is 30.36min into the video... ____________________________________________________________ Stephen Dutton 13th June 2016 Copyright©2016: X-PlaneReviews
  14. Laminar Research : FlightSimExpo 2018 X-Plane Roadmap The FlightSimExpo 2018 in Las Vegas was mostly as I predicted in my "May - Behind The Screen" edition. In that Laminar Research focused down more on fewer items than the huge agenda of the earlier announcements with the release of X-Plane11, fewer yes but more deeper and actually more significant to your everyday simulation flying. Basically the event came down to five items... More Autogen, Newer better Physics, Oxygen/Ice Systems/Autopilot for PlaneMaker, New Particle Systems and Vulkan... and with the biggest missing item on the agenda that was the ATC. None of the announcements came as a real surprise, except for the new Autopilot systems from Phillipp Ringler. Global Airports and Autogen Laminar Research always spruik highly their "Global Airport" count at any event and with X-Plane v11.25 they hit the 7310 3D number marker, with another 645 new airports coming in the next update (v11.25 - Now Available for download), it certainly makes X-Plane a far more viable world in which to fly. But laminar are not stopping there, with the consistent flow of the large amount of tools and clutter (objects in scenery) still rolling off the presses. Earlier in the year (XP v11.10) the new terminal tools to create and design better terminals and airbridges was also a great new realistic addition to the tool makers library and they should now start appearing in X-Plane scenery. Coming in v11.30 is more autogen covering US industrial urban areas, like factories, warehouses, service stations and just general industrial clutter, and with the new fencing and gates are certainly welcome to the library for better ground visual realism, and if you blinked and then you would have missed it, as there is also new and different types of taxiway linage, shapes, colours and textures that has already been released in the v11.25b1 update. Last year also Laminar Research also introduced "Landmarks" or city icons like the Eye, the Gherkin, Tower Bridge, and Westminster Palace in London, and the Opera House and Harbour bridge in Sydney. More items are going to be added to Las Vegas, Chicago (v11.25), and New York and Washington DC (v11.30). Personally this is all very nice, but the addition of the European autogen last year, was one of the most significant visual changes to the simulator, so again regions have been seen to have been put on the backburner, and sadly no payware developer has taken up the offer of making regional autogen either, which feels like a very missed opportunity for making great addons, the point is that distinctive regional autogen like Middle-Eastern, Asian or Oceania or even UK or Italian or Greek visual vistas are still not coming to your simulator in the near future again either? Physics Austin Meyer is not only the founder of X-Plane, but he is also responsible for the aircraft physics and flight dynamics. The aim of course is to reproduce as closely as possible the aerodynamics of not only the aerodynamic surfaces, but real engine performance as well. X-Plane of course was created with the effects of laminar flow on the aircraft, or the way aircraft actually fly and then accurately reproduce those physical dynamics in the simulator. Currently in X-Plane the aircraft fly very well dynamically in the air, and engine performance was highly revised early in X-Plane11, but when the same dynamics are brought close to the ground, it really doesn't work as well, hence a lot of hand-wringing and wailing about the flare and takeoff/rollout phases of the simulator. In a way Meyer's has gone back to basics to get a better Reynolds number (fluid flow past a body in this case an aircraft) and in finding the correct or a more accurate friction drag of the airframe, and this calculation will be now be available for developers in the coming PlaneMaker v11.30, and with also better prop wash and air flow properties to make your aircraft more realistic. This is a refinement of the basic X-Plane dynamics, but it's main purpose and focus is in the ground-effect dynamics, or the way an aircraft reacts close to the ground, then add in the side-force dynamics with angles of attack (the pitch of the aircraft to the moving airstream). This is a new set of forces on the aircraft (notably on the fuselage) that move 25% to 50% along the body of the aircraft, as these areas of forces will be adaptable again in PlaneMaker v11.30 and you can if you want to in opt in or out if you want the new physics (fuselage calculations) details on your project (if you don't want use the new physics you then don't have to). These new physics are also included in X-plane's Airfoil maker in that it will then calculate the best coefficient of drag for you, and of course the already noted new prop wash model and the new downwash effects.... and hopefully this will lead to a better aerodynamic model, not only in he air, but to also create a better and far more realistic simulation closer or when moving fast along on the ground (hint - for taildraggers as well) Systems and Avionics Since Phillipp Ringler joined Laminar Reseach his main focus has been on updating X-Plane's navigation avionics and most notably the GNS 430/530 pair, G1000 and the native X-Plane FMS. Certainly Phillipp's unique talent has certainly enhanced the the basic avionics of the simulator. With most of the navigation areas now completed his attention has moved on to other avionics, but now also for aircraft systems (mostly this was in the past Austin Meyer's area of expertise). Coming soon are more realistic oxygen systems, and anti-ice and de-ice systems with four different propeller failure modes of fine pitch, anti-feathering springs and full feather position as not all aircraft when the engine fails does the propeller go straight to full feather mode and auto-feather. Better systems to replicate the unfeathering of the propeller realistically with pumps and negative torque sensing, and also fuel-topping and overspeed governors also being available. Surprisingly enough, autopilots in X-Plane have been quite basic and mostly built into the airliner, for general Aviation aircraft it was an even more basically crude generic system, so if you wanted a brand autopilot, you had to usually purchase a payware aircraft like Carenado to get one. But from v11.30 X-Plane will now provide (via PlaneMaker) brand autopilots to install in your GA aircraft. These include the position based units GFC-700, KFC-250/Century and rate-based S-Tec 55, KAP-140 and the Piper Autocontrol. The autopilots come as single or dual axis and with or without altitude select and also with or without electric trim functions. Airliner autopilot systems also have had attention to make them far more realistic and these systems will mostly be replicated on the X-Plane native Boeing 737-800/747-400 aircraft. Auto-throttle can now use both N1/EPR modes, Control Wheel Steering (CWS) (yoke movements to adjust pitch, mostly on older aircraft), Master FD (Flight Director) or source selection, duel AND triple channel preconditions and checks (computers compare two or three channels of data and select the best option), flare and roll out guidance and a three axis DAS/Data Acquisition Systems. Vulkan and Metal The biggest cries out on the forums are usually "where is Vulcan" or "I want Vulcan in X-Plane" and out of the pram goes the rattle..... "aaaaarrre, waaaah!" and on it goes. If you have been in X-Plane for a few years or more, then you would know that is not the way of Ben Supnic. Were as most developers would find the easiest if quick route, then Ben usually does the opposite, but for a reason. The differences are that Supnic looks at the really big picture and not for a quick short time fix, notable was his call to go over to 64bit from 32bit a few years ago, which was really the nuclear option of coding. But the benefits of that decision has been that X-Plane was suddenly a leader and is still far ahead than any other simulator in speed and processing power... and so it seems to be the same with Vulkan and Metal which are new API's (Application programming interface) in replacing the older ancient OpenGL API. Vulkan is mostly related to Windows and Metal is to Apple. A note is that 32bit will still run in X-Plane11, but will be discontinued for X-Plane12. Vulkan (and Metal) are far more modern efficient ways to interface with modern computer processors and control processor functions, and specifically the areas of intense 3D graphic and multi-threadding processing... so Vulkan is ideal for X-Plane, Video games and simulators. Like most video games, X-Plane would benefit from multi-threadding, but in reality it is still a single thread process. Laminar decided on ten points to completely rebuild the X-Plane rendering engine from the ground up with Vulkan to get the very best efficiency and speed out of the API, and at this point they are about half the way through the list, so Vulkan is not coming anytime soon and then maybe as a beta before the end of the year. To prove Vulkan works and delivers the team have already converted X-Plane's Airfoil maker to run in Vulkan... and in the old OpenGL API then Airfoil Maker used over 18,000 driver calls, but the change to Vulkan then the API uses just 5,700 or 70% less calls to do the same processing, that is a significant difference in speed and processing power. But there is also a required reality check in using Vulkan, in what the API can deliver and what it can't deliver for your X-Plane experience. Basically Vulkan will only do the same rendering as you do now but simply faster and with more efficiency (hopefully smoother), but only again on a modern machine, if your computer's old it will still be old with Vulkan running, as it is still not yet multi-core either, but it can be in the future and that adds into the point that Vulkan will be a modern refinement to X-Plane and so there is a lot of room to expand and grow with the API. OpenGL will still work with 2D/2D Panels, and will still be available for the rest of the life of X-Plane11, but X-Plane12 will not have OpenGL, so you will need to update to the newer API if you want to continue past X-Plane11, however why wouldn't you want to use it anyway? Any addons that are currently written in OpenGL, would need to be rewitten in Vulkan as you can only use either one API in Vulcan or the other API in OpenGL and not together. Particle Effects This feature has been in development at Laminar for a loooong time, years in fact... "Particle Effects" for X-Plane was always noted as "Coming Soon", but never arrived. But now it is nearly there or here and to be included in v11.30. As with anything developed by Laminar the wait is usually worth it, and the new particle effect generator is certainly been well worth the long wait, as it is excellent. Particle effects do things like spray water under the wheels, condensation, wing tip vortices, fire, smoke and heat haze, but in the demonstrations shown here the effects go far further than that, for one there is more than one effect going on at the same time, in this case a fire, but also included is the heat haze from the fire! This is very well done and the effect of the different adjustable heat hazes from the aircraft engines is extremely realistic, gone finally are the bad engine effects we have had to put up with for years with the thick black trailing smoke flailing behind your aircraft. More clever is that adjustments to the effects can be made on the fly, or as the simulation is in motion, as the new particle editor setup is with key frames that can be adjusted and the layout panel is very similar to the current system used by the FMOD sound system. The effects are also extremely flexible in editing when you use these key-frame tables, and data-refs can be input into those tables, and you can use as many data-refs as you want to, which means that plugins can directly control those particle effects via scripting of the particle system. So in other words the particle effect engine is highly dynamic, highly flexible and and you can have as many effects as you want. Particle emitters can also be attached to objects, and that is demonstrated in the fire video as not only is the wing engulfed in flames, but the ground catches fire as well and the light of the fire is also reflected on the ground!... no doubt that developers are going to have a field day with this one, there are going to be certain a lot of really excellent particle features that will simply blow your mind, or your aircraft up. Summary I noted in the early part of the year that of what I wanted in X-Plane for the future, and it wasn't more fancy features, and it certainly wasn't more long slog betas with complex ideas being bugged out... personally I wanted the basics upgraded or fixed, the ones sitting over there in that "too hard" basket that are just too easy to ignore for all the fun stuff. To a point I got my wish here from Laminar Research, as the points addressed here in this roadmap were not in that huge "wow" factor of cheering from the masses. But they do cover some of our really important aspects of what makes X-Plane a great simulator, I personally think the huge changes that migrated through X-Plane10 and X-Plane11 are now really over, but the aspects to focus on now are just as important and now even more so.... I think you could call it the maturing of the simulator. With VR (Virtual Reality) now not taking up the main resources at Laminar Research then Vulkan/Metal and the promise of a much more stable, more modern and far faster simulator has now replaced VR development in that context, Laminar note a beta by the end of the year, but they are not promising really anything in case they hit major problematic backstepping issues, personally I think they are more further ahead than that and already done most if not all of the main heavy lifting already with Vulkan, but the problem with these things as it is not in the actual building, but it is in the refining and testing stages that brings out the issues and then the time-frame then quickly goes out of the window, so if no really nasty issue(s) comes up then I would certainly expect Vulkan/Metal in beta before the end of the year. With other aspects of systems in X-Plane now moved over to Phillipp Ringler, now Austin Meyer's can concentrate on his main forte, in aircraft dynamics. This aspect showed well at the Expo with Phillipp already delivering oxygen, ice-anti-ice enhanced systems and propeller governor changes and in far faster period than Austin would do over several years. It also allows Austin to focus on fixing the dreaded ground effects, but his work and changes will certainly deliver far more than that in the overall flying realism and build or now even expand on his founding simulation aerodynamic models, we won't know until we use them, but it will certainly make for some interesting flying. Phillipp Ringler's older portfolio of Avionics is still also very active as well with the release here of branded (GA) autopilots now added to PlaneMaker, this now puts authentic autopilot systems being available to everyone and not just the payware developers, although they are also the biggest beneficiaries of the new avionics features, and heavy autopilot systems also got a lot more clever functionality. The "wow" factor was still present at the Expo with Laminar with there long promised Particle Effects engine, certainly it was well worth the wait, as it is extensive, flexible, dynamic and will make a seriously big impact visually on X-Plane, the only worry is in for some developers not to overuse the effects, in most cases simple clever effects are far better than "way too much", but I think it will be the latter that will be more evident than the initial. So overall it was a very good six month roadmap for X-Plane, missing is of course was any notes on the ATC, of which Laminar developer Tyler Young was not at the Expo (at some "stupid" wedding in Jamaica), if that made any difference we will never know, but I am sure that Ben Supnic would have listed anything if it was actually on the table. Next stop for Laminar is beta 11.30 late US Summer, and it should be a beauty, because almost all the core items and features announced at the Expo will be released in that version. A full video of the presentation is available below... but not the Q&A. ________________________________________ Analysis by Stephen Dutton 12th June 2018 Copyright©2018: X-Plane Reviews
  15. News! - X-Plane goes 11.20 Final... Usually X-PlaneReviews will cover any significant X-Plane version release, but v11.20 will always be known as the VR version, or Virtual Reality and you need (expensive) addon gear to access the VR feature. By all accounts most users have lavished praise on the tech, but remember and more the reason I haven't yet took the plunge into VR (I have tried it though) as the tech is still in development and the noted cost factor barrier will hopefully soon come down... as a long time tech nut I was always the head in first in new tech, but now I just have been burnt financially to many times and a $600 headset is certainly to come down to a more reasonable price and better features... the new Oculus Go may be the answer but it does have a few limitations, a sort of Oculus Go Pro would be the perfect choice. Currently supported are HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Windows Mixed Reality (WMR). Full detail on specifications on LR VR here... this knowledge base VR article But kudos to Laminar Research in bringing this major tech to X-Plane, X-Plane had 64bit long before other simulators and now VR as well. The new aircraft addition in the Aerolite 103 a brand new ultralight aircraft was also included in v11.20 for trying out VR The X-Plane LEGO construction set was also extended with more customisable jetways giving airport developers far more options in creating jetway components and actions. Note the far better lighting textures on the jetways and the terminals... ... more terminal variations and styles (facade) have also been introduced. It was Sydney's turn to get the "Landmark" Treatment with the Opera House and the Coat Hanger (okay Sydney Harbour Bridge) being added with great detail.... But overall this is still not the Sydney skyline that is required for a visual simultor, but it is a good start... Of course there has also been added in another huge batch of "Global" airports that now total 6665 WED sceneries. Other v11.20 notes include: Many GPS & FMS fixes & improvements. Higher performance graphics code enabled for AMD drivers. In-app purchasing option for new demo users. Updated German translations. New alert messaging system. Fixes for dead-reckoning improved for formation flying. Enhancements and new options for .joy configuration files. Improved night lighting textures in far views. Columbia 400 aircraft with new G1000 (3D work by Captain_Noob 75) So v11.20 was a more a tweak and touch update, but the simulator does feel very stable and efficient. But overall it was for all the virtual fliers out there. Here are the full X-Plane 11.20 Release Notes Images and text are courtesy of Laminar Research ________________________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 8th May 2018 Copyright©2018: X-Plane Reviews
  16. Aircraft Update Review : Quest Kodiak v1.5 by Thranda The Kodiak is based on the principals of the extremely successful Cessna Caravan 200B, which is a single PT6A-140 868 hp (647 kW) Turboprop short-haul regional airliner and utility aircraft with a seating arrangement for nine passengers and two crew. These aircraft are of a niche aircraft but a very important and useful niche, and that is why they are so extremely popular among operators. The original Kodiak from Thranda (or X-Plane sage Dan Klaue) was a heightened extravaganza of features and ideas, and it came on the crux of the new PBR or "Physically-Based Rendering" era. Then mid-year 2017 came the first major update in v1.4 and with a newly added "Expansion Pack" This extension added in extra variants to the aircraft, with a : Passenger (with two types of seating arrangements), Ski's, Floats, and a Cargo. It was a brilliant update, and shows the versatility of the Kodiak. My personal preference like with the same variant of the Carenado 208B is the cargo versions. I love to potter from regional to hub or vice-versa with a load in the back and a smile on my face... ... and with the excellent cargo adjustments available in weight and even the size of the actual boxes or crates on the Kodiak your are in sort of mini-haulers heaven. Kodiak v1.5 The main focus of this new v1.5 version of the Kodiak is based mainly around the features of X-Plane11 and is mainly focused on the changes with the X-Plane11-10 version of the simulator. The original Kodiak had Carenado's in-built Garmin G1000 three panel display system. As G1000's go it was very good as expected coming from the Carenado system. But and here is the big but, in operation it was a little overwrought to use, mostly because of the weight it had built into it and that made it slow to respond and visually slow. So here in v1.5 you now have another G1000 option with the native version from Laminar Research that was introduced with the X-Plane11.10 release. And both versions are included here for your personal preference. You also get four different menu aircraft loading options with both the two x G1000 versions Passenger, Ski and Cargo, and also the two x G1000 versions of the Float aircraft. I flew both G1000 versions to see the differences, first was the older Carenado version to get a reacquaintance with the original setup and then with the newer native G1000 version. There is a full chart provided in the package that covers the features of both G1000 setups, their pluses and minuses, but here I will look at the most obvious differences. Carenado G1000 Laminar Research G1000 The native PFD (Primary Flight Display) of the Laminar version is far darker than the Carenado display, of which I don't really like, the problem is visually is that both are wrong? (I know someone will certainly correct me on this) but the real displays have in reality a mixture of the two approaches. The brown lower ground colouring on the Carenado is too light, but the very dark blue sky area of the native version is too dark? The real displays have a slightly brighter brown and a more brighter blue if looking at the native version. If you took the lower of the native and the upper blue of the Carenado then you would be closer to the medium correction. The touch of the Kodiak startup screen is a nice added visual startup on both systems, so it also means that the native version is not always or has to be a pure native but is adjustable to different aircraft setups. But if you use the replay a lot, then these startup screens stay on during the replay? A note that neither G1000 system has the Autopilot buttons on any of the G1000 displays, they are however on the pop-up version of the native Laminar system but not on your panel version. Carenado G1000 flying Remember this Carenado G1000 is even at only a few years in development now feels old. When released it had a lot of features, but in a strange way it feels more now like a native G1000 than the 3rd party system it is. The PFD feels crowded, as it is because of the duplicated engine parameters side panel, and it can't be removed either. There is the three switchable DME/VOR1/2 backgrounds with points on the heading dial, but they are hard to define (at a distance) but the rate of turn indicator is very good. Both speed and altitude ribbons with built in vertical speed are also good as is the radio banner along the top. On the MAP display the Flightplan insertion is basic... but I haven't add in separate the waypoints either to make it more of a flightplan than other than using a downloaded route. The PROC (Procedures) button is not active either. features Waypoint (WPT), AUX (Flight Planning) and NRST (Nearest) are all supported but basic. The route is point to point, with no options. Range is restricted (below). the closest in (9268mts) to the wide (50nm) is not that large and very slow in response. However the biggest issue is when you turn the aircraft around and at the wide MAP setting, it also drags or stutters as the MAP turns... and then most of the next scenery tile is missing and that is giving you a sea of green of where there should be water. Terrain and TOPO are both supported. Laminar Research G1000 flying The Kodiak cockpit was always quite dark with all that black trim, so the native darker G1000 layout makes it look even darker again. The missing engine parameters side panel on the PFD makes the screen more open and empty, but it is actually easier to use, the PFD engine parameters panel is not an changeable option either. But there are a lot of PFD options available to fill in the empty space. Insert (MAP), Alerts are the two big switchable panels. Wind and the same three switchable DME/VOR1/2 backgrounds with points on the heading dial are as they are in the Carenado G1000. Both speed and altitude ribbons with built in vertical speed are also really good with the rate of turn indicator with the darker background actually helping here as is the radio banner along the top. But it is in the MAP display that the differences between the two GPS systems are far more substantial. Flight planning and routing is far easier to create and much more featured here in the native G1000. The main attraction is the far more options you have in building the route and the better map layout. The PROC (Procedures) button is also available for Arrivals, Approaches and Departures, in other words you now have SID and STAR procedures and even Airways are available as well. Finally the route can be aligned vertically or horizontally on the display. MAP range is simply sensational... the range is as low as 500ft to a space view of 800nm, that is not a typo, it is 800nm and half the continent of the USofA is in view. Notably the MAP can also be used valuably to find your route around the airport, as the airport layout is adjustable and your position also well stated. Only thing you have to be aware of is to activate your route from the runway start position so it aligns correctly from your start roll. More MAP options include TOPO, Restricted areas and Airways. Waypoint (WPT), AUX (Flight Planning) and NRST (Nearest) are not supported but NRST (Nearest) is available on the PFD. The screen DCLTR (DeClutter) is in three modes is excellent. MAP rotation is smooth and fast, no lag here or stuttering in either the panel or pop-out modes, all inputs are also lag free in that the system is very efficient in operation and all ranges are visible (no missing tiles). The native version does have the extra feature of System "Fuel" Current and also remain and used quantities (GAL) and can be reset, Both G1000's are not perfect, the switchable engine parameters side panel on either the PFD or the MAP are either on or off (or missing). the missing AP (Autopilot panel) would be a nice option and then of course is my feelings on the PFD colouring. You would think that the 3rd party G1000 version would be far, far superior to the usually basic default native X-Plane system, but here that is simply not the case, you do have the choice of either with the Kodiak, but I don't see the Carenado version being available long term and certainly if Laminar add in more features to their version. v1.50 Changes That reasoning is heightened more so by the fact that the rest of this upgrade is mostly in changes of items to the alignment of the X-Plane native and mostly with the X-Plane11-10 features in the place of the original custom features that was offered before. So let us see what has been tuned. All the sounds are now FMOD and not the custom audio plugin as before, and expect all the Carenado aircraft to follow the same route. The turbine curves have been calibrated in taking advantage of XP11.10’s new PT6 modelling capabilities as has the entire flight dynamics been refined to match the XP11.10’s new flight physics, the ground handling new ground physics have also been adjusted. Other v11.10 tuning includes the electrical systems logic to the new electrical model and the aircraft's Water Handling to conform better to the new water physics. The manipulators and click spots have all been changed to be X-plane native and this for the VR (Virtual Reality) introduction and it means the Kodiak will be now ready when the VR features are available in X-Plane. Lighting has had attention with fine tuning to fix light halo artifacts, and the forward edge wing lights now have has better glass detail. Dan Klaue was always the innovator with the best highest quality textures with the lowest framerate impact. Again the textures have had some nice fine tuning and all exported OBJ files have been re-optimised, to continue even more saving of your FPS. Finally the SASL plugin which has been updated, and been updated here to v2.51 for all the new features the update provides and that includes in now allowing for the SASL plugin to not be force-reset after a crash. More finer update changes are noted in the changelog below. Summary Even from it's earliest release the Thranda Quest Kodiak was always ahead of the pack in features and refinements anyway. But the world keeps moving on with new X-Plane features and new upgrades, and so changes to these native foundations are also required to keep the aircraft not only the best right now but also well prepared for changes to X-Plane in the future. The last twelve months have possibly seen the biggest changes that X-Plane has ever been subjected too, with a barrage of the completely new version in X-Plane11, but also the already high number of revisions to X-Plane to currently v11-10 or (11) as it now stands. So this release is fundamentally a reflection of those changes and the more significant alignment with the X-Plane native items and that is for the huge benefits that the new native features bring and that is to be noted not as a backward step, but in a big advancement forward. The highlight is of course the native G1000 GPS system, which is surprisingly far better than the original custom version and far more efficient as well and so that is a very welcome addition to the Kodiak, the older Carenado version is also still available as part of the package if you would rather prefer that version, it is still your choice. The rest of the Kodiak is what you expect... a lot. There is great features, with four different variants in Passenger, Ski's, Floats, and a Cargo. Great weights and balances options, external static elements and great refined liveries and the custom livery maker is still there as well. So a great update to the Kodiak and now an even more better flying experience... If you like your regional single-prop utility aircraft to be versatile and capable and a great simulator experience then you can't go past the Quest Kodiak. ______________________________________________________________________ Yes! the Quest Kodiak v1.51 by Thranda (Dan Klaue) is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Quest Kodiak G1000 by Thranda Price is US$33.95 If you already own the original Quest Kodiak or v1.4 then this update is free, just go to your X-Plane.OrgStore account and upgrade to v1.5 Kodiak Expansion Pack Price is US$19.95 (currently) with US$5 off! Features Include (v1.5 expansion Pack): AMPHIBIAN VERSION (Floats with Retractable Landing Gear) SKI VERSION (with animated skis that adapt to ground angle and bumpiness) EXECUTIVE INTERIOR (with seats facing each other, and animated slide-out tables). Weight and balance manager graphics adapt to seating configuration. CARGO VERSION (featuring covered windows, flat loading area, and cargo visualization that adapts to the weight set in the weight and balance manager) TUNDRA VERSION (featuring larger balloon tires to tackle any rough terrain. Affects flight dynamics and ground handling) Amphibian version includes control for retractable water rudder, extra aerodynamic surfaces on the tail of the plane, retractable gear, and dynamic paint scheme adapted textures. Several menus in the slide-out window adapt dynamically to the configuration selected by the user. (E.g. cargo pod is not available for float version) ______________________________________________________________________ Requirements : X-Plane 11 ONLY and X-Plane v11-10 version is required. X-Plane 11.10+ Windows, Mac or Linux running in 64bit mode 16Gb RAM - 2Gb VRAM Minimum. 4Gb+ VRAM Recommended Current version 1.5 (last updated Dec 16th 2017) The plane comes with an auto-updater. Free auto updates for the life-cycle of X-Plane 11 Windows users: Please ensure that you have all the Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributables downloaded and installed. Carenado navigation database installed ______________________________________________________________________ Installation : Base Kodiak Download is 297.00 mb which is unzipped to your X-Plane Fighter folder at 554.30mb (both packages). Key authorisation is required. Expansion Pack Download is 257.30mb and is installed as noted below... Expansion pack comes with three folders: Into_Liveries, Into_Objects and Into_Quest Installation is quite easy in that you just deposit the correct contents in to the same folders (Liveries, Objects and main aircraft root folder) in the basic Kodiak aircraft folder and replacing or adding the same in those folders. When running X-Plane there are two Kodiak aircraft files (.acf) to choose from, with one version for the Passenger, cargo and ski choices and another aircraft (.acf) for the amphibian version. Only the X-Plane11 version has the X-Plane11 features noted in this review. You must have the Carenado navigation database installed (840mb) in your main X-Plane root folder, download from the link. Documentation : includes... Carenado and Laminar G1000 Comparison.pdf Thranda Kodiak Joystick Settings.pdf ChangeLog.rtf Thranda Kodiak Documentation.pdf G1000-X-Plane Kodiak.pdf Thranda Kodiak Credits and Copyright.pdf Thranda Kodiak Graphics Settings XP11.pdf ______________________________________________________________________ Review by Stephen Dutton 19th December 2017 Copyright©2017: 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) Review System Specifications: Computer System: Windows - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit - 16 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 8Gb - Samsung Evo 512gb SSD Software: - Windows 10 - X-Plane 11.11 Addons: Saitek x56 Pro system Joystick and Throttle Plugins: Environment Engine by xEnviro US$69.90 : XPRealistic Pro v1.0.9 effects US$19.95 : WorldTraffic 3.0 Plugin - US$29.95 Scenery: - KEYW - Key West International Airport V1.0 by FletcherJ (X-Plane.Org) Free - KRSW - Southwest Florida International Airport by Aerosoft (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$24.99 v1.5 Changelog Added support for Laminar’s native G1000 (Icons and .acf name have a description of which G1000 users have selected to use). Added ability to save various preferences set in the pop-up window (such as weight units, fairings, chocks, etc. Updated SASL to v2.51, which now allows for SASL to not be force-reset after a crash. Added a “Startup Running On/Off” option, which resets the plane immediately to the desired condition, provided the plane is stationary on the ground. Re-authored all audio as FMOD. (Removed previous in-house audio plugin). Removed all instances of degenerate UVs (known colloquially as the “Marching Ants” problem) Calibrated turbine curves, taking advantage of XP11.10’s new PT6 modelling capabilities Re-calibrated entire flight dynamics to match XP11.10’s new flight physics Re-calibrated ground handling, to match XP11.10’s new ground physics Fixed dynamic livery generator to allow for “-“ characters in aircraft registration Fine-tuned PBR materials inside and out Fixed landing light covers transparency and PBR Re-authored all click spots to be X-plane native (in anticipation of VR support). Previous Thranda-based scroll wheel implementation will not be supported in VR, so it had to be revamped. Added X-Plane-native checklist file (which Laminar says will be the basis for future G1000-integrated checklist capability) Adapted electrical systems logic to new v11.10 electrical model Assigned different sound events to various sliders in the “Audio/Slew” tab of the pop-up window. Reworked all SASL-based panel elements to do a single-pass graphics draw, as opposed to multi-pass, to reduce load on GPU. Re-optimized all exported OBJ files, to continue saving FPS Calibrated oxygen system to allow for about 5 hours of oxygen Updated Water Handling to conform better to XP11.10’s new water physics. Fixed light halo artifacts. Fixed firewall smoke handle direction
  17. News! - X-Plane11.10 has gone Final! Rejoice, bring out the drinks! Laminar Research has announced that X-Plane11.10 is now a certified version. X-PlaneReviews did a look over at the release of the XP11.10beta on what was the main features in X-Plane11.10 here: X-Plane Version Release! : X-Plane11.10 beta by Laminar Research And the main highlights are: Joystick & Keyboard Profiles London Landmarks Highly Functional G1000 Autogen & Scenery Objects Kiosk Mode Improvements for Situation Files Detailed Custom Scenery for KPHX & KBOS Over 500 New Airports with 3D Scenery This was an exceptional upgrade for the X-Plane11 simulator and the full details are available here: X-Plane 11.10 Release Notes So well done Laminar and a very Merry Christmas in the gift you have given the all of us, and so say all of us... and so say all of us... hooray! _____________________________________________________________________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 9th December 2017 Copyright©2017: X-PlaneReviews
  18. X-Plane Version Release! : X-Plane11.10 beta by Laminar Research Laminar research have released the first step upgrade beta (1 and now 2) for X-Plane11 in v11.10. As a note beta versions are buggy, that is why they are called betas and not a full release. That said my first viewing was extremely positive in that framerate (the devil's work) is certainly improved and by my numbers by around 10% to 15%... for a beta this is one very smooth running simulator. Impressed, yes very impressed... v11.10 is a very significant upgrade, the first after the initial release of X-Plane11, so a lot of what should have been part of the formal release that required a bit more work or just didn't make the earlier cut to be in X-Plane11 is going to be in here. So the best way to look at this release is that it is the follow up and refined version of X-Plane11 which will be completed when this beta run has run its course. Any newer beta versions after this one will focus more on new features and mainly on the VR (Virtual Reality) aspect. Besides the banner features in here, there is I notice a few really nice little touches and positive changes (from my point of view in flying). Garmin G1000 GPS The biggie of course is Philipp Münzel's (strangely now he is also noted as Phillipp Ringlar?) as Garmin's G1000 dual screen GPS system. One thing you can say about Phillipp is that that he is a brilliant programmer and this G1000 was always going to be very good, and it is. But do note that X-Plane default GPS systems always side on the point of being a little basic, but highly efficient and fast... and so that is case here. On the primary or left display it has all the main G1000 layouts correct with the artificial horizon dominating the screen with the heading rose/course with built in DME VOR 1& 2 pointers and the two Speed and Altitude tapes with bank and pitch displays top with the radio settings. there are no deep G1000 features (mostly usually buried in the menus) here as you would expect, but it is very functional and easy to use and nice on the eyes. The second Map/Nav display is however really good. There is the standard engine performance strip to the left of the right hand screen, but the rest of the display is taken up with the map and navigation layout. It is a copy of the local map inserted into the G1000, but that is more a huge advantage than a drawback. You can DCLTR (De-Clutter) to clear out the layered items and set the map to either Standard or Topo. Map Tracking or North UP is available via the menu and both are good, but the Map Tracking were as the map rotates as you turn the aircraft's heading is simply beautiful and smooth, and a long way from the usual draggy stop - start rotation you usually get, it doesn't go off map either, so you don't get those nasty white out box spaces that marks out the currently loaded scenery tile. But it is in the map's zoom resolution that it is... well a revolution! Under 15nm range you get the runway layout defined (above left), under 3nm you then get the airport's layout defined (above right)... but it doesn't end there... ... under 1.5nm you can easily navigate around the taxiways or find your runway... and still at 2000ft you can easily navigate around the map! Spectacular it is and how long before it is duplicated in other aircraft is going to be not very long. The default Cirrus SF-50 also has the G1000 installed. Aircraft Dynamics The C172SP has had a lot of development for X-Plane11 with FMOD sounds as part of the release version. But there has been a huge amount of dynamic work done to the aircraft's (and all aircraft, but mostly with GA's) flight model. Austin Meyer has been hitting the numbers in many areas that including a completely asymmetrical new airfoil format for Reynolds numbers to save foil data for the right Reynolds data numbers and then attach them to the “Lo Re” and “Hi Re” slots for prop or wing areas. There is also better propwash direction, which is important for propeller-powered VTOLs that tilt their thrust vectors around, and helicopters that might cast downwash onto their horizontal stabs. There is more tuning of the propwash (and thus hover power requirement) and vortex rings state and effective translational lift based on momentum conservation and actual helicopter performance data. In other words it makes helicopter downwash more realistic and have easier to control in those very critical areas when you are close to the ground. Also new is the flap and leading-edge flap and slat extend and retract times, all of which can be different, and also the flap speed ratio when retracted, so the flaps can move slower near the smaller deployment angles, and faster at the larger angles, as real flap systems realistically do. Rudder, elevator, and aileron trim now only moves the control surface when you have some airspeed over the control surface to really move it. Flight dynamics have also new vector and not trig based geometry for all the lift and drag vectors. To see this in action then pull major G in an wing-flex aircraft at high speeds and now… the lift vectors will now all bend around with the wing. Also refined is the down-wash model off wings in the ground effect mode. One area that has drove us simply bonkers is the poor ground traction on either takeoff or landing... in other words you simply weave badly down the runway in taking off or in the hardest area of landing in a just simple straight line without toppling from one set of wheels to the other. And I can confirm this now works and very well... .... you still have to account for natural forces like asymmetrical thrust and wind, but otherwise stability and tracking is thankfully a huge improvement. The full effects of all this development on the C172SP is that it is now a very different aircraft than it was even a few years ago. Overall it is still a basic design and focused on mostly new pilots to the simulator, but you feel the better dynamics and the huge improvements the aircraft has been through. Certainly all these dynamics are flowing through to mostly all of the aircraft in X-Plane and that will certainly keep the simulator at the edge of what it was designed for in the first place with brilliant dynamics to allow replicated real world flying in a simulator. New 3.0 SDK (XPLM) v11.10 also comes with a new Version 3.0 of the X-Plane SDK (XPLM). This allows for improving plugin drawing performance, Aircraft-specific menus, Menu items that show keyboard shortcuts, More joystick axes & buttons, to match X-Plane 11.10's support for 20 USB devices, new features for plugin-created UI (User Interface), Support for "popping out" windows and automatic UI scaling of all drawing in your window. In other words it provides a load of new features and is far faster and more efficient than the older API's. Older plugins (SDK's) will continue to function of course but they will quickly be bypassed by this newer and more efficient version now available. One instance on this new SDK is the now separate aircraft "Manage Keyboard & Joystick Profiles" feature. You can now set and and change a specific aircraft's settings in keyboard and joystick profiles. This allows you to have a specific setup that will change to the specific aircraft you select. So if say you have a dual throttle set for twin-engine functions, but select the Boeing 747-400 with four throttles, you can now have that specific setting already set ready when you load in the B744 without going to the joystick menu and resetting the throttle settings to cover all four throttles and not just the left side two engines. There is loads of great new features and changes in here, but sometimes it is the smaller items that cause you the most headaches... One was the default pushback tool. It is very good in it's basic sort of way... but it drove me simply sparse sometimes in that you couldn't stop it reversing? Now you can! There has been a "Stop" button added to the ground handling window. Thank you! More... Quick-look views, In there used to be 10 pre-saved viewing locations but now we have 20 settings and enough for plenty of cockpit and exterior presets. There is Improved AI & ATC with complete logging of the diagnostics with the ATC system and far fewer repeated instructions. A new command line option for "accurate_runways" which will, when loading procedures for an airport, perform runway renames and even location fixes in-memory on the X-Plane scenery and then reloads the region. This function is with the changes that X-Plane will now automatically reset runway headings with magnetic variation changes. So if the runway's angle changes due to magnetic changes, then X-Plane will reset the correct angle for you but still note what it has done. New "Global" scenery is 75 airports and 620 sceneries have been revised. Laminar have also pulled a few of those earlier Aerosoft sceneries if there is a better version available. There has been more custom landmarks scenery packs with London getting the honours, I checked but there wasn't much to look at, I think that the UK autogen art has also been included. My X-Plane11.10 beta came in at a huge 1.5gb, but it was compressed to 548mb, it loaded however in 20min which I thought was very efficient, but you will need that space and more to update to X-Plane11.10. Summary This is just a very quick overview of the highlights of X-Plane beta 11.10. Certainly there is tons more and it is in the small minute details that usually makes or gives us the biggest changes to our simulator. The highlight here is the new Garmin G1000, it has been promised and has been worked on for a fair while now, but the results are well worth the wait, and no doubt it will be fitted into countless aircraft to become an X-Plane standard like the already great GNS 430/530 combo. Everyone will note that the VR (Virtual Reality) aspect is not included in v11.10, but Laminar Research did note earlier in the year it was a more ongoing feature and would be inserted in a more custom manner than with this update, but a few things have been placed (manipulators) and set with this download but not actually activated at this point. First impressions are very impressive, that framerate improvement is excellent for a beta, but a few users have had issues with a few plugins (Gizmo) and a few other with addons, but overall I had no issues. So here is a great start to X-Plane11.10, hopefully the beta run won't be a long one, but you never know do you... Full Developer v11.10beta release notes are here: X-Plane 11.10 Release Notes ____________________________________________________________________________________ News analysis by Stephen Dutton 13th October 2017 Copyright©2017: X-PlaneReviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions)
  19. Laminar Research : FlightSimCon 2017 Details It was at the FlightSimCon 2016 that we got our first glimpses of X-Plane11 and the future of our simulator in it's bold new fashion. And so here we are a full twelve months on and all those new features and systems are all now part of our flying universe and in general use. So how do you follow a big event like that. In reality you can't but the X-Plane11 rollout still does continue, and to a point Laminar Research is not letting it's foot off the accelerator pedal either as we will see in a minute. Laminar Research to a point could have just come to FlightSimCon 2017 with the current up to date 11.02 (or even the 11.05 next version) and bathed in the limelight of a job well done but the general feeling was overall "Still a lot more than where that came from". Certainly if you follow X-Plane's developers blog a lot of the forward development is already noted there, but to note openly the ongoing forward features that are actually active and not just "In development" is still going to make the crowd go "wow". And so it was. After the first announcements of new product developers then Laminar Research (LR) held the first of the big seminar blocks as well between 10.30 to 11.30 on the Friday morning. The more upmarket venue of the Sheraton Hotel also shows that Flight Simulation is still a long way from losing its appeal and is still far from a failing subcategory of the general games business as some people constantly whine about, it was also a nice step up from the usual crowded old small conference rooms of the past. But down to business... The seminar started with a review of their default aircraft was in reality a bit of a backward step. We all know that the current crop of default aircraft are below par, a few in the C172 and B738 are not too bad, but most feel like test beds for LR in testing out new ideas than quality flying aircraft, I still don't know if the default B744 can even still fly in a straight line? Most and even low level payware aircraft are currently better. A small promo on X-Planes new X-Plane11 interface followed. To a point LR deserve a lot of credit here as the new interface is simply brilliant, fast and very intuitive, go back to X-Plane10's interface and you will certainly notice the difference, it is slow and simply awful, I am a big fan of the new changes. Another promo then covered the Global Airport feature, which again has grown from a few to over 4300 airports is now covering a lot of X-Plane's empty airport deficit, but it is still a long way off Flight Simulators count, but with now officially 4300+ lego (global) airports it is starting to have an impact on all that X-Plane empty space you always had. Physics and Systems If you thought that Austin Meyer was finished adding in new physics, systems and changing the values of X-Plane's core foundations you are wrong to the groans of developers that have just sorted out his last set of changes with the introduction of X-Plane11, no folks Mr Meyer is on a charge now and a lot more is still coming. I will admit though after years of stagnation then Austin's new rules of flight do have an impact, aircraft do feel more realistic and systems are far more deeper in X-Plane11 than before, certainly in the throttle feel and ground dynamics (although I still hate that grab the aircraft to landing feel you get only when feet above the runway). Austin is using accumulated aircraft data and even using his own Cirrus SR22 as a testing rig to create even more realistic physics and engine parameters to get more closer to the real feedback that you are looking for in simulation. Here at SimCon 2017 the focus was on supersonic flight and how that the physics change from engine power and output to more of controlling the airflow to the engines to go faster. Helicopter blade physics was also covered also. Vector based dynamics was another area covered that included tailwind and aerobatic aircraft (tail first) fall that still created backward airflow over the the aerodynamic surfaces even when trying to hover still in a helicopter. Lastly was better electrical systems in fluctuations and power provided by the engine outputs or ground supply. Scenery and Autogen Next subject covered airports or new scenery items for scenery developers. Laminar Research are creating still a lot of new scenery items to place in sceneries, before it was the larger items, but now it is all the smaller fill items that are all the rage. Caravans, forklift trucks, glider trailers, grain silos, new hangars and a lot of signage in parking, road and barriers. I was very impressed with the European style autogen in X-Plane11, and to a point it is far better than the older American style work. More is to be added in new mid-sized towers and apartments, factories, houses with even more detailing. The absent of churches is still a head scratching moment as churches dominate European and to a point American scenery. But overall I would rather have more regional detailing at this point as X-Plane is still either very US or European centric. English, Middle eastern and Asian housing no matter how basic would open up the world a lot more so to speak. A new set of autogen coming though from LR is "Landmarks". These are iconic objects that turn flat cities into what we know as London, Paris, New York, Las Vegas, Sydney and so on, but although this would be a big step forward for X-Plane in creating a more real autogen realism feel. I personally felt that this territory should have been left to 3rd party developers to add in these specalised packages to this area? Just a small amount of icons can not easily cover the wide selection you require to create the correct scenario and I think that Laminar Research would be best putting their limited resources into more diverse things in autogen to fill it out like the recently mentioned regional autogen. But we shall see. Virtual Reality Virtual Reality (VR) has been promised for years for X-Plane, and finally it is coming. You can't lay the delay on to LR because really VR like Artificial Intelligence is a futuristic idea that was promoted as a developed perception than actual reality. The hard part was interacting with the virtual environment besides of just being inside that virtual bubble and its six degrees of freedom or dimensions, and it is far harder to do than just pressing on a key on your hard element built keyboard. But lately new style VR interaction tools (Spatial 3D Interaction) have finally changed the game (so to speak). In reality you would now only need a chair, some rudder pedals and VR headset and manipulation handsets to fly, oh and a computer worthy of running a small city to run it all in the 3d environment. But most realistically you can now finally interact within the X-Plane world in walking around the aircraft and inspecting it and actually now sitting in the cockpit (on a chair) and can actually fly it in the virtual world. Does it all work? In the demo it was very impressive (video below), in walking around the aircraft and then flying it. But VR is an inside thing to evaluate. I have tried the headset and it was an amazing experience in a visual sense, but the missing hard surfaces tended to make you feel as you were falling through time and space. Still with the new developments you are holding controllers and not interacting in a hard sense but in then how does VR tend to add in real yokes and throttle systems to give you at least a more physical touch on the important items will yet to be seen. My personal feel is that could you also do this immersion for hours at a time like you do in front of multiple screen monitors and of that I am not sure of, but VR does have its great advantages as well as its deficiencies. At this point VR is still in development at Laminar Research and a release is noted as in the fall (October) so a more better evaluation will be better then, but the demo at SimCon 2017 was impressive and shows that progress is finally being made. VR features noted are : Easy setup (one Click), 180/360 degree of movement, Teleport (with hotspots), Full 3d cockpit manipulation with haptic feedback and iPad companion for shortcuts, planning and logbooks. Avionics Philipp Münzel has totally revolutionised default X-Plane avionics. The talented German has over the last few years buried the old clunky line by line FMS and GNS GPS units with first his masterpiece the GNS 430/530 units for GA's and then with a better new FMS (Flight Management System) for the larger aircraft, although I will note the FMS is quite basic in operation but does have the far better underlying navigation data to work with. That underlying new navigation data base developed by Philipp is the most important element here in bringing X-Plane up to date in better navigation data, but more so in that it can be updated with Navigraph and Aerosoft Nav DataPro data which keeps all navigation data across the board current and up to date. It was no secret his next project was a Garmin G1000 two screen display GPS system, and here we got our first full view of the new avionic system. As a rule G1000 displays have been notorious in X-Plane because of simply the display size. A few developers have got it to work, but overall the issues with large scale maps within the navigation screen have been very clunky and with poor graphics, and mostly in the rendering of the turning maps. Awkward flight planning is another hurdle to overcome. This new unit is based on an actual G1000 system in a Cessna 400 and is customisable in Planemaker for different aircraft types. It can have standalone windows (all panels like all default GNS/FMS systems pop-out and can be resized) for home cockpit builders. The important point here is that it uses vector graphics to overcome the old slow drawing map display, and that means no more dragging or slow revolving screen movements. It looks as solid as the GNS 430/530 units and that means an elegance in operation. Features include built in are multiple failures in AHRS, fluxgate, air data computer, GIA, transponder and more. Options include WAAS and non-WAAS ( or Wide Area Augmentation System that uses GNSS augmentation for accuracy, reliability, and availability while flying). GFC Autopilot intergration (nice), KN63 DME and KR87 ADF radio integration and GDL-69 "NEXTRAD" and wind weather displays. SID/STAR/IAP, SBAS approaches and LNAV and RNP-AR are also built in and available. Another nice G1000 feature are chevrons to indicate an out of bounds too high or low a pitch to show you how to respond to the wrong angle of attack to the aircraft. And the new system can also be customized and configured to different aircraft in performance and specifications. Performance If you have used the X-Plane Simulator over the years then you will know that efficiency and performance is everything, and mostly that is limited to framerate. Get below that 18fr line and the stutters really mess up the total enjoyment of just trying to fly and makes your time seriously frustrating and makes even the most simple actions just maddening. I lived with a slow computer for years, so I have experienced the low framerate pain to the letter. A very powerful custom built computer certainly fixes most of the problems, but you are still watching the numbers when you are piling in all the effects and features you would like. The biggest worry is that even with a powerful machine is then how long will that framerate buffer keep me up in the usable zone and not put me back down again in the restricted painful zones of limited framerate to fly on with all the extra forward developments and the sheer processing power required to cover all that autogen, plugins, textures and complex scenery and aircraft as the constant demand never ends. Ben Supnic at the SimCon 2017 has noted future performance goals in trying to keep at least the tide at bay. New coding tools also do now help in the cause. For everything the X-Plane simulator is still quite inefficient although the move to 64bit by LR four years ago was a very good decision. But overall the central processing power is still limited because only a few and and not all the cores are working to their maximum efficiency and mostly because we are still having to use old OpenGL code for graphic processing. So the trick is to open the gates and use two new API's (Application Programming Interface) that are sets of subroutine definitions, protocols, and tools for building application software as it is now more available. These are Vulcan for Windows/Android and Metal for Macs/IOS and Linux. If you watched the Apple Developers conference stream last week in the way that Apple showed off the capabilities of its Metal tool, then you will know how impressive and efficient the API really is. That same capability will soon be coming to X-Plane as well which includes low CPU use, Multi-core friendly and no stutters within the driver. There is some good and bad news in here and the full changes will take about a year or so to crossover to the new API drivers. First all current OpenGL drivers have to be rewritten, and that means like with the change to 64bit your aircraft and plugins are going to have to be translated to the new Vulcan and Metal API form. The good news is that LR are going to still run the old OpenGL drivers for at least the run of X-Plane11 and so unlike the messy 64bit changeover your aircraft and plugin has still a bit of time to get converted. But I do think that most developers won't wait around long to get the performance boost with the new format for that long. So what works and what doesn't. Mostly a lot of scenery, models and aircraft will work fine with the new API's and a great many addons, plugins and panels already work with Vulcan/Metal. However addons that draw in 3d will need modification for use with the newer APIs and new technology will help developers with the transfer to the newer drivers. New X-Plane related tools are already flowing out from Laminar Research which include the newly released WED 1.6 which includes a more finalised ground traffic operations flow. FMOD sound is now also available as are the manuals. Blender 3.4 and exporter are also in the final stages of testing and should be available soon. A brand new Plugin API has also been developed in a revised form to cover X-Plane11 features, Pop-Out windows, Custom Maps, 3d drawing for Vulcan/Metal and that API is coming about mid-summer. Laminar Research's goal with all this change is however very ambitious. They want a 60fr goal for desktops, a 45fr goal for VR and believe it or not no stutters either! That is one very high set line, and personally I don't think that is totally possible (a sort of in my dreams) but I never ever discount Ben Supnic either in his abilities and it also doesn't mean that you can still hang on to that 10 year computer and upgrade straight from X-Plane9 to X-Plane11 either as you will still need as many cores and the power as much as you ever did in the past. A sum up of delivery of features was listed as: X-Plane11.02 (current) X-Plane 11.05 is coming really soon - Airports (Global Airports) X-Plane11.10 - New lego bricks and Landmarks, G1000 system, New Systems and physics and more speed. VR in The fall (October) And Vulcan/Metal changes in the future Summary You have to impressed overall at the amount of features and future predictions coming out of FlightSimCon 2017 by Laminar Research. They could have used the rest of the year in just tiding up the X-Plane11 release and had a few holidays and sat by the hotel pool. But the above announcements showed that there are a lot of nice new and exciting additions still to come and many soon. Laminar Research has been very active at SimCon's over the last few years. This major American SimCon is always an interesting one as it is at the start of the American summer period. And the full larger room shows that many users are interested in the future of X-Plane development as in the past X-Plane was always pushed into small timeslots or even smaller rooms. The changes within Laminar Research also reflect this more professional approach to the simulation industry as well. Gone are the days of a few talented individuals to keep the simulator alive. Today Laminar Research has different full time areas developing ideas and delivering on time goals. It is still a small team compared to say Aerosoft, but there is a distinctively new and more professional feel about X-Plane11 and the way Laminar Research is going about its approach these days, for most of you that is you will say "about time", but the proof is all there on your screens. There was no announcements of the new particle system at FlightSimCon 2017 that has already been announced. But Laminar Research have noted it is still coming and are currently working on it and maybe will be still released this Northern Summer, as surmised the feature was left out of the SimCon because of time constraints and not development. But for long term X-Plane users there was a lot to savour here and more importantly is that the development of Vulcan/Metal APIs will bring even better performance than we actually expected. In the short term the release of X-Plane11.10 mid-summer is now even more eagerly awaited with a lot of great new features and that excellent G1000 system which also looks far better than anticipated. So who says it is a boring time to be in X-Plane as 2017 has already been a banner year, and it looks like the ride is not over yet, you are even beginning to wish that Laminar Research would go on a holiday and just give everyone else a chance to catch up. There are two videos now posted with one for the actual full seminar and another a VR demo... ____________________________________________________________________________________ Conference overview by Stephen Dutton 13th June 2017 Copyright©2017: X-PlaneReviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions)
  20. Version Release : X-Plane11 has been officially released Laminar Research have released RC-1 of X-Plane11 but also noted the full release of X-Plane11. In accordance with Laminar's usual version release schedule the interim beta phase is followed by a RC or "Release Candidate" that is a standardization of all the features and settings for the full version release, but in this case Laminar Research have moved directly to a full release. Steam users should now get a X-Plane11 copy, and the DVD disk package will also be released to stores. There will be a slight delay on the shipping of DVD package versions, as the disks have to be burnt and then shipped to stores. The official release is still noted as an RC and even though the release has been made, so there is still a period that means the testing phase is not completely over as the simulator version is still noted as "Release Candidate 1, but the main items are finally locked in. There could be still more various RC versions until the absolute final release is actually published, but for most it means that finally the main beta work phase is over. Fine tuning will still not happen until the absolute final version release, so don't go looking for speed and framerate changes yet however some tuning may still be evident. To update to Release Candidate 1 then run your X-plane installer, and the simulator will note the version only as X-Plane11 and no beta version variants. Make this no doubt, the new X-Plane11 version is a huge step forward for this simulation platform and the major features include. • A brand new intuitive user interface and control setup • A completely overhauled aircraft fleet with detailed documentation, plus multiple new aircraft • High-resolution exteriors and detailed 3-D cockpits for many aircraft • New global auto-gen scenery with both European and North American details • The latest road placement and global scenery from open street map are included • Now with over 3000 airports with 3-D buildings & airport scenery • Airports are now populated with dynamic, driving service vehicles and static and dynamic aircraft. • New rendering engine for enhanced lighting and water effects • Updated weather and atmospheric effects • Enhanced performance from the modern 64-bit engine But to note that there is huge amount of detail and features already built in to the new version that have not been yet activated or finalised. New FMOD sound, particle effects and better PBR (Physically-based rendering) have yet to be unleashed and they will have a significant impact on the simulator experience. You can try X-Plane11 in the demo or buy it here : X-Plane / Laminar Research But for now, well enjoy... X-Plane11 is here, and it is a great step forward for simulation. ______________________________________________________________________ Stephen Dutton updated 30th March 2017 Copyright©2017 X-Plane Reviews: X-PlaneReviews
  21. Laminar Research : X-Plane 11 Beta Released! Laminar Research have releases as predicted on Thanksgiving 2016 a "Beta" copy of X-Plane11. That note of a "Beta" is very important in the fact this is not a release version of the simulator, but an early in test version of what X-Plane11 is. And yes it is quite buggy, so if you want the full effect of the new X-Plane version, then I recommend a wait of a few weeks for the system to find a better level. You have two choices at this point in downloading the free "Demo" version or with a payment of US$59.95 for the Global version (key) with X-Plane10 thrown in for free. A second note is that to run the global version you will need the X-Plane10 "Global Scenery" as at this point in time there is only a internet download version of 6.90gb available to acquire X-Plane11. Getting the X-Plane11 Beta To download the X-Plane11 beta then go to the Laminar Research site here... www.x-plane.com From this download page you can download a X-Plane11 installer that is pretty similar to the one used in the past for X-Plane10... On startup of the installer are five segment in installing the simulator with the first with you have to agree to "End User" license and for that Laminar Research can use your user data for diagostic purposes Second segment the installer will check your servers (hard drives/SSD) for where to install X-Plane11. If you don't agree to the favored selection then give the installer your own install address position. You still have the options to cancel the install or buy the full "Global" version before continuing with the installation. Press "Continue" and the install will commence... There is as mention 6.90gb to download, and mine over a slowish ADSL2 broadband took around 1h.30m which was quite good with no issues. X-Plane11 Where as in X-Plane you had one long startup procedure. It is now split into two sections, and initial start to the selection page is quite short. The full screen setup is very, very nice and feels far more modern than the old startup screens In the Demo mode you get the introduction video to X-Plane and again like X-Plane10 the Seattle area is the default demo area. Main selection page Four selection choices cover... New Flight Load Saved Flight Flight School Settings "New Flight" goes to the main "Configuration" setup panel... This allows you to set up the Aircraft, Location, Weather and Time of Day selections. When done just press "Start New Flight" and X-Plane11 will do the final loading of the selections and area selected. No doubt X-Plane11 does load far faster than X-Plane10, and is far smoother in its complete operations, but I did get a few screen freezes and more than I would like at this stage. I have a Saitek x52Pro (black) joystick & Throttle, I have been able to set it up, but have issues saving the settings as it crashes the sim every time, and I can't set the switches and buttons on the add-on to my liking (yet). Menu Bar There is a new drop down menu bar with now two sets of menu options with Titles left and Icons right Title (word) menus consist of Five drop down menus including: File - Flight - View - Developer - Plugins Icon Menus consists of Six selections Pause Icon : Now you can "Pause" the simulator via an icon besides still using the standard "P" key Aircraft Icon : Pressing the Aircraft Icon brings up the earlier "Flight Configuration" panel Headset Icon : Pressing the Headset Icon brings up the ATC (Air Traffic Control) panel Pick Icon : Pressing the Pick Icon brings up the "Local Map" panel with built in glideslope (which makes it much more accessible) Settings Icon : Pressing the Settings Icon brings up the "Graphic" settings panel The "Graphics" set up page is now greatly simplified (maybe too much?) with most selections replaced by sliders... biggest change is that the standard - HDR setting is now one setting, so there is no HDR off selection! Monitor settings are here also, but make sure you get the right monitor settings correct or it affects your computers settings as well! Other Menu Tabs here consist of: General - Sound - Graphics - Network - DataOutput - Joystick - Keyboard - GPS Hardware ? Question Icon : Pressing the ? mark Icon starts up your default browser and loads up the Laminar Research "Manual" page You very quickly find your way around this excellent menu system, and it is fast, very fast and smooth in operation. But many items required do require a drill down procedure to get to the setting you require. But overall it is a very efficient interface. First Impression Overall still a bit buggy, CTD (Crash To Desktop) is common when configuring the joysticks (as noted) and I haven't yet completed the settings. First notes on the forums note poor gamma, and X-Plane11 is very bright, and there is no gamma setting as I can find it Reducing the day light towards dawn or twilight, brings a little colour (top) but otherwise it is all very bright. The Citation Aircraft is missing as well? Summary This post was never meant from the start as a full in depth review of X-Plane11, but just a how to load the new version and a first impression point of view. It looks good, but you feel a loss of a lot of settings as many have been combined together to do the same job, but you do feel a little loss of visual setting up control. Certainly the adjustment will be in there, and with time and a learning curve you will get the visual feeling correct. But X-Plane11 feels very efficient, smooth and quick in loading and use. The simulator here is also set at it's (very) basic settings. So there are no 3rd party aircraft or plugins yet running in here, as noted you can with the download version swap over your "Global Scenery" and "Custom Scenery" folders, but I recommend to add in your 3rd party aircraft into X-Plane11 and don't just swap over the "Aircraft" folders because of the new way the aircraft are noted in the new visual menu system. Certainly more to come to this post as the menus are quite deep and slightly complex. So X-PlaneReviews will keep posting more on the simulator as it settles down from the beta versions to the full release version... but it looks good. Stephen Dutton 26th November 2016 Copyright©X-Plane Reviews: X-PlaneReviews
  22. Laminar Research : X-Plane 11 Release notes For Laminar Research to announce that a "Big Announcement" that was coming in October at the RAF Cosford Simulation Show (8th October) and that Austin Meyer and Ben Supnic where going to be there at the show, and even the Stanley Kubrick inspired promos are now coming off YouTube at a rate of click. So it wasn't really a hard to guess that this was for the announcement for the release of X-Plane11, as the timeline easily pointed towards "Thanksgiving" as this was always the usual standard Laminar Research major release point period anyway. The 13th June FlightSimCon previews were correct as well along with my forecast that yes indeed X-Plane 11 will be released this year, for as noted at the time the shown exhibits at FlightSim 2016 were just too well defined to be still in early development. But with the release at Cosford you did get more information, and a little more detail in that you can now define on what X-Plane 11 is going to be. First to note is that X-Plane 11 is available now if you wish to purchase the online key, you DON"T actually get X-Plane11 of course but you do get the download as soon as it is available (Thanksgiving in the US) and the key works for X-Plane10 and 11 as so you don't have to have different keys for the different versions. There will be for the first time two different packages to buy and are aimed at different audiences, the current price is US$59.99 Download 1. The first download is the electronic version, but to use this download does mean you must already have X-Plane10 installed with the "Global Scenery" that comes on those eight DVD disks. This version is intended for current X-Plane users and the upgrade to X-Plane11 will be just like a standard X-Plane installer update. Which is very good news as you will have X-Plane11 installed very quickly and not wait around for the eight disk DVD package to arrive, and as I am in Australia in that last time it took six weeks for the package to arrive. -There is the option to download the "Global Scenery" or as it is noted as "Regional Scenery" but it is a very hefty download (see below) - Steam: Steam will be probably be downloaded the same way. But in most cases the first X-Plane release is usually a beta version (or prerelease) so the new version may not be available to Steam straight away as per the beta program rules. Boxed Package 2. The second version is the standard Boxed version with the nine DVD disks. This version is aimed at new users to X-Plane and the set requires the user to download and insert the full or selected areas that makes up the "Global Scenery" folder. Obviously with the "Download" that means there is no update to the basic X-Plane scenery tiles or an inclusion of the HD version. But it is my guessing is that these will continue and you will still have the option (depending on your computer power) to use the HD scenery or not. This area is still a bit of an Laminar dilemma in that on how to download these huge Gb files over the web (overall nearly 100 gb of scenery is now available). But faster broadband speeds may help there, but for X-Plane11 that global scenery area really stays the same as X-Plane10. Coming X-Plane 11 Features New User Interface Multi-Monitor & MultiPlayer New Aircraft GPS and FMS (Flight Management System) enhancements New Flight Model New Autogen (model) Dynamic Airports Lighting & Fog FMOD Sound Particle Effects New Weapons System Set within those headline features are other great new ideas and enhancements that will greatly enhance the simulator, we will highlight them as we cover the main items in depth. It must be noted that the above is just the current listed features, not the complete list of what X-Plane 11 will become. A new version of the simulator is not what you only see but what is also buried in the code or hidden structure to support new features not yet perfected or ready for use. One area that highlights this will be covered in Lighting and Fog below. So don't despair if you think some important items have not been addressed in this first release period. Note: Laminar Research is keeping the release very much in house for this early beta, so the images here are a collection of poor You Tube grabs and the few released images. When X-PlaneReviews gets better sharper images I will replace them or add in more information as it comes to hand, so check back in again regularly as they become available. New User Interface Everything you are currently used to when starting up X-Plane will be gone in X-Plane11. One of the biggest complaints of X-Plane is its very complicated and to be honest very dated drop down menu interface. It works of course and no doubt about that, but still very old-fashioned. Now on startup you will the new designed startup screen... .... you will soon get four options on restarting X-Plane. Resume Last Flight Start New Flight Load Saved Flight Flightschool I personally love the "Resume Last Flight" selection in that the one thing that really annoys me is resetting up my last point in the simulator, another great help here is in the menu selection of airport start points as we will see. But to get back to the point where you left off in the last flight is a total pain in either positioning in the local map or taxiing to the required position from the runway. I was never really happy with the "save situation" as it always left the aircraft missing something or not loaded correctly and it was worse with plugin 3rd party aircraft. "Load Saved Flight" could be the replay mode? or a replacement for the "save situation" in a new updated form. Flightschool will be now built in for novices and for the rest of use to hone our skills, but a nice addition. Another but excellent item is the "Exit X-Plane" button on the bottom of the panel. How many times have you started X-Plane by mistake or wanted out early, and then you would have to wait while it took ages to all load up everything, just so you could go and "quit!" well no more. Flight Configuration Screen The old "Quickflight" Screen is gone, and has been replaced by the "Flight Configuration Screen". This new screen is more than just a start up panel to set up the aircraft, airport and weather details... It is now your complete new startup menu system. This a very clever panel to use. On the surface it still has only the basic components of the selection of the aircraft, airport and weather with the added panel for the time of day settings. Simple to use and to look at... and still fast to set up. But the setup panel goes on far more than just picking out the basics. Unlike before you can now also fine tune each selection to your complete specifications... we will start with Aircraft. Aircraft Selection of aircraft is not just selecting the aircraft from your aircraft folder anymore. You now have in X-Plane11 a wide variety of search options in a set banner menu that consists of: All Classes - All Engine Types - All Manufacturers - All Studios This breaks down the selections into easier groups under the set folders in the X-Plane Aircraft folder, but more than that you can also select the engine number (1, 2,3 or 4), aircraft manufacturer or X-Plane developer (3rd party). Still lost to find what you want, then use the new search box. The trick buttons here in X-Plane11 are the "Advanced" buttons on each selection. These buttons now allow you to drill down and do more fine tuning on how or which way you wish to set that item up, in either the areas of Aircraft, Airport, Weather or Time of Day. In selecting "Advanced" on your selected aircraft you get more details on the aircraft, including the star (green arrow) for making the aircraft a "Favorite" selection and then that selection listed in the your "Favorites" list. Lower left of the panel are two buttons that relate to setting up the aircraft in "Weight, Balance & Fuel" and "Failures". Notice also the checkbox for Hot or cold engine start (or engines running). There is also a tab here to allow you to scroll (quickly) visually through all your liveries that are included with this aircraft and then select the version you want. Selecting either the "Weight, Balance & Fuel" and "Failures" buttons brings up setting panels for both areas. The "Weight, Balance & Fuel" panel is brilliant to use and the aircraft adjustable weight dial is easy and very clever to use and at any time you can reset to the default values. In "Failures" you can drill down from system (and aircraft) area failures to specific items and the times or frequency of those failures. The usual "set global mean time between failures" and to be able turn off the failures altogether is still in there. Location There is an excellent feature in that you don't have to go and backtrack to a main menu to select another different area in the setup menu that you need to access. If you just want to do the basics like select an airport then just do that, or if you select the "Advanced" button of that area then you go straight to that area... this is quick and highly efficient navigation, and it allows you to what you want and do it very simply, but also the very indepth setups are just as easy to access across all the different areas you need to change... Airports are easier to search with more information on their type and use. There are two selections in start points in "Ramp" or "Runway". But the biggest feature is the easier finding that correct runway or gate start position. Before it was a time consuming guessing game to get that runway or gate start that you wanted, certainly if you were looking for a say a cargo stand. But now all the gates and runway positions are all marked and the airport location map will scale to help you find the correct position. How easy can this be... A lower left button (green arrow) notes "Special Starts", a favorites list or my guess it is the "Aircraft & Situations" situations starts. Weather and Time of Day Instead of the eight weather selection panels (Clear, few, scattered, broken, overcast, low-Vis, foggy and stormy) you now have a sliding scale of all the weather options available and what the weather looks like. Same goes for the "Time of Day" panel with the same time scale and graphic options. No views of the "Time of Day" Advanced button has yet been revealed, but the "track real date and time is in there". Under the Weather "Advanced" button the old complex weather panel is gone... The Weather setup is now more visual (that means easier) than the guess work layout of before. Both "Cloud" and "Wind" layers are added in and set separately but shown together in an altitude format, very easy but they can also be setup in a very comprehensive way. Dragging of the different altitudes that you want with the selected "Cloud" and "Wind" settings that you want to cover is again visual and you can just drag to set which is easy and clever. The weather "properties" are also now displayed of each layer and the information is certainly very handy if you have auto imported the real world METAR's or high winds (Winds-Aloft) data. Checkbox for real time data downloads is bottom left. X-Plane load Screen This is the new X-Plane load screen. The standard moving load bar (now in blue) is still along the bottom, but at least now we have something more interesting to look at while we wait. Menu panel Where as really before in X-Plane10 there was one banner menu for all X-Plane setup and computer settings. In X-Plane11 the settings have now been split into more different areas. - The first was the above "Flight Configuration Screen" that covered all the areas of setting up the Aircraft, Airport, Weather or Time of Day. - The second is the computer screen settings panel, and these panels access is by a new popup banner. Instead of the earlier single row of dropdown menus aligned to the left the menu has been split with the few remaining text menus still on the left, but a new set of six icons now sitting on the right. The noted left text banner Menu items here are: File - Flight - View - Developers - Plugins The right set of icons have to this point not been totally defined, but the "Flight Configuration Screen" set out above is the first icon and the "settings" menu below is the fifth icon. The settings menu consists of: General - Sound - Graphics - Network - Data Output - Joystick - Keyboard In effect you should easily recognise all these menu items as the same as in the current X-Plane10 layout... only one title is changed and that is the "Graphics" in that the current panel is called "Rendering Settings". No images of the new "Graphics" panel are yet available, but my guess it has been totally redesigned for a more ease of use and less confusion on how to set out your render settings and what each item does. It will be interesting to see the final layout as this panel is usually the most used of all the X-Plane menu items. The above "General" settings is a guide of what to expect with a more clearer layout and sliders replacing numbers in many areas. The "General" panel covers five areas in: Language - Warnings - Flight Model - Data - Damage These two panels show the changes for "Data Output" and "Network" settings. There are all completely redesigned but the as with everything here the actual items and the selections are the same as with X-Plane10, so you should very easily change over to the new format. The "Joystick" panel looks excellent with the connected controllers shown in the display and all the buttons and sliders are noted for X-Plane connection. Again the process to connect up the buttons to the X-Plane command is the same but with just a different format. Multi-Monitor and MultiPlayer Laminar Research have noted they have made or are going to make significant changes for "Multi-Monitor" and external device support for home-based systems and more importantly for the Instructor/Trainee markets. In X-Plane11 there is now more window support for Multi-Monitor users. If you use any pop-out windows (or panels) then they can also be moved to a new window or to a second monitor. All windows also can be resized and scaled to fit your monitor size, and so they can be as small or large as you need them and you can compress or expand their panels as you like. A new tool is that you can also put world visuals on any monitor which I guess would be like a moving map. It will be interesting how 3rd party developers will use this idea and the tool... so watch that space. And for more versatility the Instructors operators station will in X-Plane11 be able to be put on any secondary monitor. For online "MultiPlayers" which is a now important area for simulators, Laminar Research have changed the panel design to reflect the set up X-Plane for on line gaming. There has always been a lot of noise and complaints about this area of X-Plane from online users, but Laminar Research as said that they are going to make this area one of the best, but don't expect miracles straight away, but for Laminar's perspective they do need to get it right, because this area is one of the big growth areas (meaning sales) for the simulator. New Aircraft One of the biggest surprises that came out of the 8th October announcement was the exciting new aircraft that will be included with X-Plane11. Four are expected and they are: Boeing 737NG Cessna Citation X Sikorsky S-76 (helicopter) Mcdonnell Douglas MD-82 Boeing737NG: The inclusion of a Boeing 737NG as a default aircraft in X-Plane11 is a surprise, but should it be? It has been floating around for awhile and if you take a look at the promo logo for X-Plane10... that is a Boeing 737NG. So is it late or did it just take far longer to create than expected. But with a default version now available that can't be a bad thing. A night shot of the B737NG cockpit says a thousand words, but "Wow" has to be at the very top of the list. I wouldn't expect a lot of system depth, the basics should be all in there though and note that excellent FMS is installed (more on that below). Cessna Citation X: Another aircraft that disappeared completely early in its conception stage has reappeared as an excellent looking Biz jet. Sikorsky S-76: Good helicopters have been thin on the ground for a few years, but this excellent looking S-76 could really shake you out of your fixed-wings and back into the world of vertical flight. Mcdonnell Douglas MD-82: Laminar Research noted that this MD-82 has been around for a few years. My guess it is the completed X-Plane Freeware Project version that never made it out of beta in X-Plane9, gone then but not forgotten, the T-Jet is back! Another huge X-Plane favorite has also (finally) had a big makeover and that aircraft is the default Boeing 747-400 So well long in tooth is the default B744 is that I actually dropped it from my flying roster (see Behind the Screen : August 2016). But the gods have heard my pleas and the Queen is back. The images briefly show a complete redesign in the cockpit, that is a great start.... and all those heavy textures seem to have been banished! GPS and FMS (Flight Management System) enhancements The really exciting prospect of those two new and updated heavies (B737NG/MD-82/B744) is that X-Plane10 will deliver not only the aircraft, but they will be (hopefully all of them) for the first time have a default X-Plane FMS (Flight Management System) The new FMS is definitely installed in the MD-82, as the aircraft is shown in the above images and so it is in the B737NG, but what of the others? Why would or should you get excited about this FMS? Well this is a Philipp Münzel designed FMS and think... FlightFactor... Boeing 777,757, 767... getting the vibe? Philipp Münzel FMS's are the best in X-Plane, elegant, with a lot of system depth, and hopefully now available in all three of these great new aircraft in X-Plane11. An added bonus with this default FMS is that like the default Garmin GNS430/530 GPS, you might not know where it may end up in other 3rd party aircraft. As the new FMS shares the same data as the Garmin GNS430/530 GPS. So the flow and depth of data that is required for the FMS has gone the other way into the current GPS pair as well.. Now the Garmin's have runway selections, SID and STAR departure and arrival procedures, vector to final, air-routes and better flightplan visual layouts. In other words it is now a powerful bit of kit. And if Philipp has been through the code it should be smoother and more efficient as well in operation. So in one swipe all the FMS/GPS systems in the X-Plane aircraft have been brought right up to date and are all quality units. Laminar Research have also noted that ALL the default aircraft will be of the same quality and detailing, and you had a taste of that quality with the release of both the updated Beechcraft Baron 58 and King Air C90B in 10.50. New Flight Model Austin Meyer said that X-Plane11 will have new and better flight model. Mostly concentrating on his own Lancair Evolution he explained the forces and running of his PT-6a-42 engine in that what you get in pure performance doesn't happen so much in real life aviation and he wants to simulate that... Interesting stuff, we will see where that goes and more in depth when it moves on more from the theory to the X-Plane desktop... but it is an interesting future and could bring X-Plane higher to an even more realism benchmark. New Autogen (model) X-Plane10 was mostly specific in getting the visual aspect of the simulator more realistic. To a point it was pretty successful in the idea of a plausible world and not so much of a complete replica of the real world. Efficiency of objects is the key and the other direction in to creating perfect replica buildings is just going to grind your computer down to a crawl as you see with OSM 3d scenery. In reality once you are up in the air, most of the scenery around you does look the same, only the different shapes and sizes make the differences. This is the idea behind the plausible world look. Throughout the X-Plane10 run the plausible world idea was more refined than expanded. Then as now you still only have one set of autogen for the suburbs known as SoCal or South Californian or USA. The code for other different regions to expand out the autogen was put in place a few X-Plane10 versions back, but still not utilised. Up to this point Laminar Research has only used one Swiss artist to keep the quality and the tight restrictions required for efficient autogen. But really after the full run of X-Plane10 and only SoCal and a more of a focus on the urban infrastructure in tall buildings, factories and warehouses X-Plane is still covered with actually almost the same SoCal autogen in the suburbs from Dubai in the Middle-East to Stockholm in Sweden. That will all change in X-Plane11. The art assets are being opened up to 3rd party artists to contribute to the regional autogen... and thank god on high for that. The autogen restrictions are still very severe as they need to be for the efficiency that is required, but otherwise there is no doubt that with the many hands already shooting up this area that the look and feel of the autogen will change quite significantly and quickly. Laminar Research has shown the first area to be included and it is Germany, and in X-Plane11 you will have besides SoCal also Germanic housing. Another addition to the autogen model is the inclusion of terraced or long buildings. These are created by putting together many of the current singular buildings and then joining them up together as a row (below right). The autogen transformation will be quick, and more plausible in the fact that soon your arrival into Dubai finally won't have American housing on your approach path! Dynamic Airports Another of the big original complaints about X-Plane was that it did not have the huge database of airports to fly into. It did have the airports per se, but only the airport data in the location of the runways and a windsock! But no actual 3d buildings. That changed in X-Plane10 as Laminar Research created a database to collect 3rd party airports built using the WED tool to fill in that credibility gap and if you load X-Plane now then these "Global Airports" are automatically sited there for your use. To a point more time and hours in creating the tools and infrastructure to support this specific area of X-Plane (called Lego) during the X-Plane10 run in reality overrode most other areas of development, but the results have been very good. The numbers are impressive in 7,092 global sceneries have been created and 5,191 of them have been created with 3d objects by 1,862 scenery artists. But this only puts the scenery into the simulator, now Laminar want to go to the next step in creating... Dynamic Airports! Dynamic Airports as a feature has already started with the 10.50 update with the inclusion of better static (A.I.) aircraft positioning at airport gates to work with the better ATC (Air Traffic Control). Now Laminar Research is adding in another step in filling out the areas around the aircraft with service vehicles or "Live Ground Traffic". I use the JARDesign "Ground Handling Deluxe" plugin for service vehicles a lot, It works and looks great. But around you there is nothing happening to all the other aircraft and when you taxi in or out of the terminal areas and unless it has vehicle "Traffic" running, there is nothing going on. This new feature will provide more movement but also fill in all those blank areas with service vehicle traffic. This sounds great in theory and with one aircraft but then multiply that with say Atlanta (KATL) or another mega-hub and it will be interesting to see it all works, but it is very exciting as well if it does... The feature is also available for 3rd party (i.e. payware) developers and that is where you are going to see the biggest changes, as the feature will be perfectly intergrated in with the airport scenery. There will be a new WED (WorldEDitor) version released the same time as X-Plane11 with the new tools built in for creating these "Dynamic" features. Lighting & Fog One of the fanfare features of X-Plane10 was HDR or High-dynamic-Range rendering which created great lighting effects and lighting shades. Laminar Research were justifiably proud of their HDR feature and it was a big bonus for the simulator. As good as HDR is it doesn't cover all the aspects of reflection and lighting. Mostly in reflection. As we see the world our eyes are very good at picking up the variations in light reflected objects in say dull flat items to bright shiny reflective surfaces. So a new lighting feature come in X-Plane11 is "Physically Based Rendering" or "PBR" The idea is that any surface can have different reflection properties, like a brick's surface (or texture) is not shiny or even that reflective. It can however in certain lighting conditions look shiny and reflect light, so a runway that can close up look rough and have a flat matt surface reflection, at a distance though the runway can also then look actually like a reflective surface and like water. And this is the idea behind Physically Based Rendering and the way that light follows the rules of Physics. From a computing position anything can be done, but it is at the cost in the processing or computing power. So in most cases visual tricks are used to compensate for the different surfaces. It works like this... Instead of using current lighting techniques like using multiple diffuse textures and specular maps for each part of every object in the simulator to represent the various different conditions, you can just create one texture for each part then artificially define properties like the refractive index to help parameterize a physics model that controls how light and shadow work when rendering frames of the simulator's view that contains that object. Bonuses of PBR in X-Plane11 will include that everything (surfaces) will now be reflective and the reflections can vary with the viewing angle with a very efficient process without using huge amounts of processing power.... it is called a "Win Win" So our current dull objects or aircraft will become more dynamic and shiny. Glass will look more natural and surfaces from any angle will be reflective. In the early days the PBR effects won't cover the scenery modeling as it is far more complex, but Laminar say's that it will come in some form in the future and not interfere with current scenery textures. Also coming to X-Plane11 is Screen Space Ambient Occlusion (SSAO). An algorithm is implemented as a pixel shader, which analyzes the scene depth buffer which is stored in a texture. For every pixel on the screen, the pixel shader samples the depth values around the current pixel and tries to compute the amount of occlusion from each of the sampled points. In its simplest implementation, the occlusion factor depends only on the depth difference between sampled point and current point. Ambient occlusion is a shading and rendering technique used to calculate how exposed each point in a scene is to ambient lighting. The interior of a tube is typically more occluded (and hence darker) than the exposed outer surfaces. The trick of SSAO is to make the complex calculations only on the computers GPU in realtime (and not using computers CPU) which makes it very efficient to create ambient lighting and to make the simulator scenes more lifelike. Fog X-Plane11 comes with a new particle effects engine and it has been completely rewritten for efficiency and better effects. One of the early side effects from that new engine is the new fog shader. Fog in X-Plane now is quite a strange animal in that what you get really is all or nothing. The worse effect is as you come into land and the fog just lifts and you get the full airport in a new light, very dramatic but not very realistic. The new fog now has exponential decay or it becomes more and more thicker at a more rapid rate. Better radial distance and linear calculations create a smooth flow from one fog distance and thickness to another... in other words perfect fog. This effect will also create a much more effective horizon or that haze that takes out the detail of buildings at a distance, the effect all round is more realism. It is also important to note that in the process of installing new features and code. Is that with a major simulator version change not everything is laid out for use on the initial release. The fog feature is one coming, but many has expressed the views that more or better weather effects should have taken priority. As they say you can't build a house without a foundation, and that is what Laminar are doing here in laying down a foundation for better weather effects that are coming in the X-Plane11 run. When is anyone's guess, but Ben Supnic noted that only when the effects are good enough will they be included as they are still in the early stages of development, but they are coming. FMOD Sound FMOD is a sound effects engine developed by Firelight Technologies and the FMOD format is coming to X-Plane11 to create far better and more 3d like surround sounds for all Win/Mac/linux platforms. The new sounds will intergrate directly with the X-Plane Flight model, physics and command system. To a point X-Plane's current sound engine is very basic, just a collection of wav sound files were as most developers are now currently using plugins to create separate sound engines to compensate for the current lack of flexibility. This sound engine will bring the sound back into the simulator. Since the FlightSim 2016 notes then no new information about sounds were revealed at the 8th October announcement. But back then Laminar Research did note that they were creating a new tools to create better sounds for their inclusion in the simulator and it will be open to all developers. New Weapons System Laminar Research did release a load of new features for weapons use in X-Plane 10.50, these included: Weapon selection is now better with flashing selected armaments. You can now also steer or aim in a direction a gun, even with a second joystick can be added in to do the delivery job. Unguided bombs and rocket numbers have been added with up to 24 bombs and 99.999 rockets! that is if you can carry that heavy load. Air to ground bombs and missiles can now be laser or GPS guided to their targets. Either by a gun/bomb steering with a joystick axis or by locking in on a target and then firing letting the bombs or missiles go to their assigned target, and all can be set via your on-board aircraft situation display monitor. In the upgraded weapons package is another feature that could be used also by other aircraft developers. This is a new on board aircraft "Camera" feature that can be steered (again by a second joystick) and zoomed with my guess a joystick top-hat, key or similar adjustment. If that is the package or more is coming to X-Plane11 then Laminar didn't expand anymore on that area at the 8th October announcement, so we will have to see what is actually in there when X-Plane11 is released. Summary the new X-Plane in version 11 is more a very technical upgrade than X-Plane10 which was more focused on the visual. So at first glance the simulator will not have as much in your face features except for the complete overhaul of the interface and menu system. But dig deep and there is a lot going to be inserted in there and a lot in the way of efficiencies in not only in the way the simulator runs, but also in the way it looks and sounds. But don't expect all the gongs and features on release. It will take a year or so before everything is fully settled down and all the features are well intergrated. And also keep in mind on that count that the basic building blocks are actually going in now, but they won't show their features for a while into the future. In reality it is a good approach by Laminar Research in to put in first a lot of basic components or code and get that working perfectly until then later adding in more features and ideas on top. This is the opposite of the approach to X-Plane10 were as Laminar put everything in at the start and then spent a lot of time just fixing it all up. Looking closely at the new interface, you can see a radically different way you will interact with X-Plane. It is in the smooth transition for all areas in selecting Aircraft, Scenery, Weather and Time of Day and still have a simple or the deep depth of settings very easily at hand. The interface is powerful and clever and a lot of time and thought has gone into its conception, it looks very smooth in operation as well and will be a big drawcard for new users into flight simulation. For current users you will easily recognise all your current menu items and settings for use, the only difference is the way they are now accessed and used. Value... Many will question value and the cost of upgrading to X-Plane11. Just first note that with X-Plane10 you got far much more than Laminar Research advertised when it was released so yes in the end you did end up with great value for your investment. So if Laminar Research do deliver the new features promised here then it is already good value, more so if the promised new efficiencies are part of the deal then that is a better deal as well. The biggest bonus than like X-Plane10 is that many of you shouldn't need to currently upgrade to run X-Plane11 as in reality there is nothing in there that could be a processor buster. If you have an already weak machine with X-Plane10 then don't expect the new one help you out either, you will still need power to run it. but that generational leap in power is not required here. For sheer value on top of the new simulator is the collection of new aircraft. The B737NG, MD-82, Cessna Citation X, S-72 and a totally revamped Boeing 747-400 are all worth the admission price alone, yes they won't have the depth of systems or features of say a flightfactor aircraft, but they will have its FMS! and that is going to be a brilliant deal for everyone. The above notes are in context of yet not actually running X-Plane11 or even sighting it as it is not yet actually running as a beta, so areas and maybe even items will change on the release of the new version. To that effect we will update this review to compensate for those changes. Also remember that it is good chance the first release will be a beta version (as Laminar did with X-Plane10) so if you want a solid version then I would wait until the release goes final (it only took a few weeks last time). The one thing about X-Plane is the constant change, another new era is coming for our simulator and it is another exciting step towards what Austin Meyer's vocally proclaims "The best simulator ever!" Funny thing is with X-Plane11 he may be finally getting there. ____________________________________________________________ Stephen Dutton Updated 17th October 2016 Copyright©2016: X-PlaneReviews
  23. News! - First X-Plane 11 feature and Release Videos Laminar Research have released there first X-Plane11 video, covering the new features.... Lighting, Reflection and Fog They also note... X-Plane 11 includes: A new, intuitive user interface An overhauled aircraft fleet, plus 4 brand new aircraft High-resolution exteriors and detailed 3-D cockpits on all included aircraft European buildings and roads and more! I have now added in the two X-Plane 11 release presentation video's and I will add more as they become available... X-Plane 11 presentation. *Part 1* X-Plane 11 presentation. *Part 2* _____________________________________________________________________________________ Stephen Dutton updated 9th October 2016 Copyright©2016: X-PlaneReviews
  24. News! - X-Plane11 : Announcement coming 8th October! Laminar Research have announced a date 8th October 2016 that they will announce in a big presentation in the UK at the 2016 Flight Sim Expo at the Royal Air Force Museum in Cosford, England... "A big announcement!" Both Austin Meyer and Ben Supnik are both scheduled to give personal presentations on the "big announcement" which for all and sundry will mean the launch of the next version of X-Plane in "X-Plane11" Excited... you should be. So that concludes the announcement of the "big announcement!" ______________________________________________________________________ Stephen Dutton 2nd September 2016 Copyright©X-Plane Reviews: X-PlaneReviews 2016
  25. News! - 10.50 goes Final! by Laminar Research X-Plane's latest version has gone final in v10.50. The X-Plane application will now prompt you to auto-update the next time you run to run the installer. Steam users for 10.50 should get the update in a day or so. The full 10.50 release notes are here, and X-PlaneReviews did a full summary of what is included in the new version here: X-Plane Version 10.50: What is new No doubt that it has been a busy place at the Laminar Research over the last few months but that is going to be nothing compared to a complete new X-Plane version coming soon later in the year. But for now, X-Plane 10.50 is good and final... ______________________________________________________________________ Stephen Dutton 9th September 2016 Copyright©X-Plane Reviews: X-PlaneReviews 2016
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