x+s+r // mmtm + lsgy

xsr MM

A couple of fun new files, and a nice paint for the Jar-A330 too.

This TAP Portugal “Stopover” livery advertises the airline’s services in much the same way Icelandair pitches an overnight (or longer) stay in the Keflavik area on your way to or from Europe or the US. Very nice paint!

Jar330

One annoying thing about the JarDesign’s 330 is the way it pushes the Ground Handling file on you. You can clearly see the GHE Deluxe file is deployed in the images above, yet the acf is “warning” me that there’s a GH package available for the aircraft and to go to their site to download the file. If you do you’ll find it works for the JD A330 and nothing else, and if you already have the package onboard it’s not recognized so you get the warning, which won’t go away. The situation is just one more where JD fills your screen with annoying warnings (framerate warnings are mentioned in many forum posts, with the program blocking the view ahead if framerates fall below a certain point). I’m not alone in saying “Stop it! No more!” We can handle our time in Xp the way we want, okay?

//

So…tdg released a new file yesterday (LGPX(a), so of course ruifo came along with one of his own not long after, and it is, of course, another airport Down Mexico Way. Located on the Gulf Coast a couple hundred miles south of the Texas-Mexican border, MMTM + Tampico Javier Mina International Airport is a small airport serving – primarily – domestic destinations, with the extra added attraction of Houston Intercontinental thrown in for good measure (via United Express, no less). This is a Wed airport so no additional libraries are needed, a real plus for some people.

717 ruifo

No surprises here, except the scenery relies on a fuzzy ortho to render much of the peripheral ground detail/structure, and it just doesn’t work well, or look good. No cars in the main parking lot do NOT help matters, either. In fact, this file looks a little rushed, yet it still works well enough for its intended purpose (uh, gee, as an airport in a flight simulator?)

Get it here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/45954-mx-mmtm-tampico-javier-mina-intl-airport-2018/

//

This new LSGY Yverdon-Les-Bains file has a lot going for it, including nice trees and foliage, 3D human figures, and a fair representation to what’s on the ground in Switzerland. There’ve been other versions of this airport, and with a higher degree of fidelity to the original airport, yet here we are with another decent duplicate version. Indeed, with a couple of unique, even redeeming features…

In the images below, check out the human figures, including the spotter/photographer, the guy on the cell-phone, and the gentleman gesturing beside the lavender Mercedes. Every picture tells a story, eh? Not sure I like this new leafy grass texture, though, but the people and foliage add a nice bit of depth to this file. The river/canal behind the airport, with the wooden bridge, is another nice feature.

LSGY 1.png

This little airport is not far from LSGG Geneva and if you don’t have time for an hour-plus flight this might be the “go-to quickie” you’ve been searching for…a nice half hour (or less) flight near the Alps could be just the thing on a slow day, ya know…so we took up the Alabeo Ovation II up for a quick spin…and you’ll just see the canal/bridge in the second image below.

LSGY 2

I have to comment on the rock-solid flight model Alabeo put together for this new file. The in-flight characteristics are really easy to get used to, and once settled-down the aircraft trims easily with only a little throttle or a tiny bit of elevator trim, and there’s no hunting involved. Landings in this file have simply been fun so far, too; I won’t say “easy” as that implies kind of an FsX “flight model on rails” thing, and that’s simply not the case.  And I think it goes back to the aircraft being easy to trim, and so once in the groove even throttling back and dropping flaps on your approach requires only a little anticipation on your part, and beyond that…not much else. Dial in the trim and easy on the throttle, then flare gently about five over stall and prepare to be amazed. Very nice indeed.

I liked this LSGY file too, and it makes an interesting GA stop on your way from Austria (or Munich, or yes, Zurich) to LFLL Lyon, Grenoble, or if heading to northern Spain or Portugal. The 3D figures are a good, even a fun touch, and the airport has a laid-back feel I can relate to, so maybe it’s the kind of place you’ll enjoy coming back to from time to time. If curious, you can get the LSGY file here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/45862-lsgy-yverdon-les-bains-airfield/&tab=comments

I had to update the Handy Objects Library file to get this one to load correctly, and here’s the link if you’ve not updated recently: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/24261-the-handy-objects-library/

As mentioned, there’ve been other versions of this file, including one in the Gateway, but this file works well in Xp11.25, and framerates were decent.

That’s all for now. We’ll seeya around the campfire – A

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x+s+r // lgpx(a) and some odds & ends

xsr lgpx hdr

It’s only been a few days since tdg’s last file and yet another one came out today, fresh off the press so to speak…and this is the point I was trying to make in yesterday’s post. Payware developers just can’t match this pace of development, yet, in a way, that’s what the market seems to want. I think the problem is obvious, too. How many healthy markets do you know where there’s either no product, or a serious, chronic shortage of new products? Despite the fact that the lion’s share of the market in X-plane is focused on general aviation (estimate is 70% of the current market), how many airports came out this year that were focused on general aviation activities? A couple? And yet, given that X-plane’s Wed object architecture is almost ideally suited to cranking out small GA airports, is there going to be a big market for small payware airports anytime soon? Probably not.

So…my guess is that 70% number represents a soft buyer, a user who is not likely to spend much on add-ons. This guy is more likely to open Xp, find the default Cessna 172 and a few local Gateway airports, then try to get from point A to point B without crashing on a freeway in the middle of Akron, Ohio. Ergo, my extrapolated guess is that the hard market in X-plane, the real market that exists for payware files is a much smaller segment but one that has an almost insatiable appetite for new files, and probably more for new scenery files than new aircraft files. Aircraft have a learning curve, don’t they, while airports become places to use the aircraft you just spent weeks learning to use, so, from a marketing perspective, how do you identify where your market for payware scenery files lies?

Odds are using a database of regular users might not be as easy to interpret as you might think. Let’s just pull a number out of thin air…let’s imagine that half the X-plane users in the U.S. live in Texas and California. So, does anyone really think the safe bet is to only make airports in Texas and California? I don’t. And I don’t because a big part of X-plane’s allure is to fly in exotic locations, and if you want proof head on over to xpfr and look at the file downloaded the most over the last several years. Yup, Tahiti. And rightfully so, too. And if you want to put a finer point on things, there’s more than a little bit of Walter Mitty going on inside the X-plane gestalt, almost a kind of voyeurs perspective – where you might consider that many people like to fly in places they’re very unlikely to get to fly in their lifetime. Fly the fjord-lands of Norway? Or even Tierra del Fuego?

A few years ago my son and I picked up a couple of BMW R1200GS motorcycles and rode from Colorado up to northern Canada, not quite seven thousand miles in five weeks. We thought our next ride might be to try to ride from Colorado to, yes, Tierra del Fuego…until we read more about the risks of riding through places like Columbia and Venezuela. The point, if I may, is that people like to break out of their usual nine-to-five existence when they go places, and my guess is that applies to the time we spend in X-plane, as well.

One thing that’s so distressing about the Rim & Co debacle is that developer had a handle on that zeitgeist…Ayers Rock, St Helenas, Tierra del Fuego, or what you might think of as an adventure travelers wish-list. Can you imagine being able to fly to Easter Island and see those stone carvings? You can fly over places in East Africa any day of the week in X-plane, but can you fly over herds of migrating elephants?

What else can you imagine? And if you can imagine it, odds are you’d like to go there in X-plane and take a look around. I’ve experienced that impulse flying in the Andes, in Columbia and Ecuador, and I found that some of the most rewarding flying I’ve done in X-plane was when I got the chance to fly there when Santiago released his first Columbian files – and it was a blast!

Yes, it’s all about breaking out of your comfort zone, about using X-plane to explore your world, the world you’ve always wanted to see.

Now…how do payware scenery developers get into that mindset? What kind of imagination does it take…?

//

A new ground handling package for the X-Craft E175 came out Sunday, and this one is aimed at aircraft hooked up to a Jetway and needing less equipment, and no stairs. All in all, a good thing to have, and here’s the file:

https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/45950-x-craftse175-jd-gnd-set/

X175GHE

//

The SSG 748i needed, I mean really NEEDED this Etihad Formula 1 paint…

Etihad 748

…and yup, here it is, too:

https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/45934-ssg-747-8i-etihad-f1/

//

Spent a bit more time in the AFM files this morning, this time in the Ovation III. Very similar performance to the Ovation II – but with a G1000 panel – and seen here departing KTEX for KGCN Grand Canyon…with SkyMAXX Pro doing it’s thing.

Ov3

There are a bunch of interesting paints included with each variant, and some liveries have different colored interiors to match. Nice…!

//

LGPA Paros

So, a new tdg airport, this time in the Aegean/Cyclades (from Wikipedia: the Cyclades are an island group in the Aegean Sea, southeast of mainland Greece and a former administrative prefecture of Greece. They are one of the island groups which constitute the Aegean archipelago. The name refers to the islands around(κυκλάς) the sacred island of Delos. The largest island of the Cyclades is Naxos.) So, southeast of Athens, west of Chios and Antalya, therefore perfectly situated to fit into a route network linking Cyprus, Israel, and Turkey to Athens and points west.

And, yes, it’s a tdg airport so it’s damn good, and he’s gone to great effort to make sure you feel welcome here! My only complaints? Ramps are a little quiet, and a little dim. I’d imagine the real airport is too, so no big deal.

LGPA comp

Olympic is the dominant carrier here, and the rest of the action is centered around regional seasonal charters.

LGPA comp 2.png

Keep in mind that the real airport’s ICAO code is LGPA, while tdg slapped a LPGX label on this file…so we could still use the old airport (located nearby) for other purposes. You can just see the Old Paros Airport from this newer airfield, and you can use it by entering LGPA. LGPX will get you to the New Paros Airport, or this file.

LGPA Appr.png

Yup, this freeware file is a Must Have for our burgeoning route network in and around Greece, and you’ll find the file right here, so get ’em while they’re hot:

https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/45943-lgpx-paros-national-airport-greece/

And try to stay cool while this wretched summer heat bores in. Adios, and take care – A

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x+s+r // mooneytunes

xsr klas hdr

After fiddling around with Xp 11.25rc2 for a few days I wandered over to KLAS Las Vegas to take a look around. With all kinds of new assets in Wed showing up, I wanted to see what the airport looked like, as well as “Gucci Gulch” – aka the infamous Las Vegas Strip. I looked at these objects last year but was surprised how much better the airport looked, and even the strip seemed different. Newer, brighter, or maybe just my imagination – whatever: the area looks quite good in 11.25, better than many payware airport/city combinations.

trump vegas

I’ve been talking with a few people since the whole Rim & Co thing went down. About what happened, and maybe even why, but it all comes down to a kind of infrastructural insecurity confronting many payware developers these days, and it all goes back to the same thing Simon, Stephen and I have been harping on for the past seven or so years.

The days of the one man “development team” are over, at least as far as payware files are concerned. One person just can’t produce enough to be competitive in a market that requires constant saturation to maintain interest. AeroSoft gets around this by gathering freelance developers to form teams, if only for a short term gig, in order to produce a file, and it’s kind of telling that after going solo and breaking away from Orbx two developers have rejoined the fold. Its just too tough out there to go it alone.

Another issue has come to the fore once again: scenery libraries. When you get right down to it the payware developer is at a huge competitive disadvantage because he or she simply can’t use all the thousands of objects and textures that are available to the freeware scenery file developer. A few developers, like Mr X and Drzewiecki Design, have created their own “in-house” libraries, and when you think about this it makes great sense. Without libraries to pull commonly used objects like baggage carts and wind-socks, the payware developer is caught in a roundabout, constantly re-inventing the wheel for each new file developed.

But can you imagine what our files would start to look like if freeware scenery library objects started showing up in payware files? It’s not hard to imagine that within a year all our airports would begin to look like Gateway Airports…in other words they’d all begin to look somewhat the same…so where’s the solution to this ongoing dilemma?

Oddly enough, one answer might lie in a corollary to another type of library that’s come of age in the aircraft file category. A bunch of enterprising engineers that work for aircraft engineering and maintenance firms, by and large in Russia, have made “drawings” of many commonly used objects seen on modern day aircraft, and these objects are available to developers for FsX/P3D and X-plane to use in their files. Think things like entire landing gears assemblies and even whole flap extend/retract mechanisms and you’ll have an idea of what’s available out there, but think what could an enterprising entrepreneur might come up with for scenery developers to use? Maybe an entire catalogue of common airport objects that developers could subscribe to?

And then, all of a sudden, a tremendous weight might be lifted from some developers shoulders. Production workflows could be streamlined, and output increased.

And what if a group of developers got together and made their own catalogue, kind of an ongoing library they could all consult for items as the need arose?

About all I know at this point is that developers need to start thinking outside the box. They need to consolidate forces, and streamline their workflow.

Why?

Well, look at this image from Laminar’s Gateway KLAS, and the solution ought to be pretty clear to you, but also keep this in mind as you look this image over: what’s missing from this scene is as important as what’s included.

WED

//

MooneyTunes hdr

So, looking over things at Threshold this morning I ran across a new Mooney file by AFM (Advanced Flight Modeling) so I went ahead and pulled the trigger. Of course, Alabeo also recently released their version of this aircraft so, enterprising aircraft reviewer that I am, I decided to pull the trigger on that one too, so I could compare the two.

And I guess the thought hit me about that time how things have come full circle. After all, Carenado’s first file for X-plane was a Mooney, and that file ushered in a new era for the GA community in X-plane. Pretty soon we were using a new term, too: Carenado Class, to refer to the high level of quality found in Carenado’s payware GA-single files. Of course, while Alabeo isn’t exactly a part of Carenado they might, for all intents and purposes, be considered cousins, and Alabeo turns out some of the very best GA files around. Their Waco is my favorite GA acf, period, so I respect their work and think its about as good as can be.

So…I opened the AFM Mooney M20R Ovation II and this is what I saw:

AFM 1

And when I finally opened the Alabeo version of the same aircraft?

Alabeo 1

So? What do you think?

Me too.

The Alabeo is pure Carenado Class, while the AFM looks state-of-the-art – for late version 9. And it’s a pity, too. You look at the exterior model of the AFM version, including the textures, and it simply looks like it’s going to be a Carenado Class file:

AFM 2

But there’s no contest here, because the Alabeo IS a Carenado Class file. Look at this comparison image, with the AFM on top of the Alabeo:

AA comparo 1

Look at the leading edge of the vertical stabilizer (the tail). In the AFM file the edge is squared off, while it’s correctly rounded on the Alabeo. Look at the window edges on the AFM and you see a hard, black edge, while in the Alabeo you can see interior detailing where padding and edge molding is applied on the interior surfaces of the real aircraft.

But once again it’s the panel that carries the days, and this is where Alabeo’s superior model AND textures win hands-down:

AA cockpit comparo

The AFM’s panel looks almost one-dimensional, the lighting kind of flat. On the plus side, it has two Garmins and an interesting anti-icing panel. Negatives? The heading bug and lubber line on the HSI are colored in earth tones (WFT!) and are generally hard to see. The AHI is flat. In the AFM image above I’m in a climb at 100 KIAS yet the VSI is registering a 100FPM descent (on my rotate and climb-out from KASE it first jumped to a 500 FPM descent). The cutout for the windshield is roughly modeled, with easily seen segmented lines making the arc, and I’ve not got the opening door included in this image but it’s simplistic compared to Alabeo’s.

On the Alabeo panel, the HSI is correctly colored, the AHI is textured to show curve and depth; under the gear knob you can see the two vertical indicators are in easier-to-see orange; one is an elevator trim indicator, the other a flap position indicator. On the right side you’ll find a vitally important Lean Assist gauge, and while the overall modeling in the Alabeo is typically perfect, the textures are beyond gorgeous. Try to ignore the rudder pedals, if you can. Try to read the auxiliary compass in the AFM model, if you can.

I made dozens of screenshots but in the end they were unnecessary, because there’s no point beating a dead horse. Yet…

…the AFM file does offer one real, concrete advantage that the Alabeo doesn’t, and that’s three aircraft files for the price of one; so, besides the Ovation II you’ll also get an Ovation III as well as an M20TN Acclaim Type S, and these last two come with a G1000 panel. Yet it’s this last type which may well be the AFM file’s saving grace, because the Acclaim is a real barn burner, not to mention a blast to fly in Xp11. And so, when this Acclaim is combined with a G1000 panel, suddenly this becomes a package to sit up and take note of:

Acclaim

The Ovation III is no slouch in the looks department, with a very nice panel, and perhaps the best cabin of the three AFM files:

O3.png

All these files have settings tabs nest on the lower left margin, but the AFM’s tabs are more complete, and with an embedded checklist for each file this is a strong point in their favor. You’ll also find a maintenance tab, as well as a load manager, something missing from the Alabeo version, yet if you don’t see yourself using these features this is a wash.

In a way, it comes down to Alabeo’s panel, which is far superior to the AFM’s, and this brings up a point that can’t be made often enough.

X-plane is a flight simulator, not a screenshot generator, yet it often feels like many aircraft developers put 90% of their effort into crafting a really gorgeous exterior, then rush their panel, cutting corners here as if the panel is the least important part of the package. You can’t say that about this Alabeo file or, indeed, most Carenado files. Its like Alabeo/Carenado craft their panels first, then go about modeling the shell, then the interior, and only after all that other stuff is complete, when the panel is finalized the systems are coded is the job done, but the point, at least to me, is that their panels never feel like an afterthought. All three panels in these three AFM files don’t even come close to the visual quality found in the Alabeo file, so the question you’ve got to ask yourself is this, and it’s a simple one, too: Do you want one great panel, or three average ‘looking’ panels? (And I don’t want to infer that the AFM panels do not function well. I’m not, and they do.)

I flew the AFM and Alabeo Ovation II files from KASE Aspen to KTEX Telluride, and both files performed similarly. Takeoffs required a lot of runway (that’s just a fact of life at 7800 feet MSL), and climb outs were equally sedate. The AFM file typically held 600 FPM at 100 KIAS, while the Alabeo file squeezed out closer to 800 FPM at 100, yet maybe that’s simply because of the Lean Assist gauge? Both easily made 15,000 AGL, and both APs held heading and altitude with no issue, though the Alabeo’s altitude setting panel was easier to use for me. The AFM’s heading bug and lubber line are a pain in the ass to see, and I prefer analog NAV/COMM boxes on the panel than having to use the Garmin to set frequencies, so Alabeo wins that one too, for me anyway. Still, some people might not care about that last point.

Sounds? Alabeo’s were richer, deeper, and subjectively more immersive to me, with gear and flap sounds noticeably better.

Details? Are you kidding? Compare the Alabeo’s leather-wrapped yokes to the AFMs plastic ones. The interior headliner, and all the other interior textures, are far better looking in the Alabeo. The 3D dummy pilots? Geesh, the family sitting in the AFM file looks like a Cro-Magnon clan loaded for a Sunday outing. Please, NO, get rid of this nonsense! In both files!

So, AFM:

AFM flight comp

To sum it up: a great exterior and an average panel.

And then, the Alabeo:

Alabeo flight comp

Yeah, well, this is Xp GA perfection.

The AFM file(s) are at the Threshold Store for 37.95USD. The Alabeo is at the Org Store or at Carenado’s e-store, price 32.95USD. If you really, really want a G1000 then the AFM is the way to go. If, on the other hand, you prefer old school NAV/COMMs and steam-gauge perfection, I’d stick with Alabeo’s superb file.

Hasta later, folks, and Happy Trails. Thanks for dropping by – C

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x+s+r // lmml

xsrLMML

Looking for something new to try weekend?

If you enjoy heavy metal air cargo ops, have you considered JustSIM’s EDDP Leipzig-Halle? If not, this is one of the best payware files out there and it’s a major hub for DHL. There are lots of DHL paints out there, too, for everything from the 757 to all kinds of 737s and even small turboprops like the C208 Grand Caravan or Quest Kodiak. Regional destinations will keep you busy for weeks, and there’s even a dedicated GA area if you want to explore the area in your Cessna 172. Berlin is nearby, or…make your way to Hungary and check out the Hungary VFR project in an aircraft like the Baron. Head east to Poland and check out all the wonderful airports via DDs 3 volumes of Polish Airports. If you’re new to Xp, this is a wonderful area to push into new, unfamiliar territory. There’s also a new Halle-VFR file out this week too, for GA/VFR flyers…

Leipzig Halle

This airport file is truly one of the best in Germany, so don’t miss out on this one.

//

LMML hdr

General aviation opportunities will be less interesting from our next airport, unless you enjoy long over-water excursions. LMML Malta is located in the central Mediterranean, on the island of Malta, and it is the base of operations for Air Malta as well as a major hub for Ryanair; Lufthansa Technik also has a large maintenance facility at the airport. 777-class aircraft can be handled on this airport’s runways.

Malta entered the EU in 2004, but the island group was a significant outpost of the British Empire, and the Royal Navy kept a major base there through WWII. It is today more famous as an offshore banking haven than just about anything else, though many recent motion pictures have been filmed here, including Gladiator, Munich, World War Z, and Captain Phillips. The island also was a staging port for construction of the Suez Canal.

There’s been a few attempts at this airport over the years, including huge project files that covered most of the islands with detailed orthos and added many of the smaller villages. More recently, tdg covered LMML with a new file for the airport, and his version was predictably quite good (and quite extensive, too; see our review here), but today we’re going to look at an even newer version, this new file by prospero246, who is perhaps better known for his numerous Canadian scenery files.

LMML comp 1

In day-to-day use, there’s little difference between the two airports, and while both files feature dense object use, neither is bothered by poor fps.

LMML comp 2

If you checked out our earlier review you’ll have noted that tdg’s version has much more extensive facilities for car parks, as well as a huge containership loading facility in the port area (he includes other urban detail), so on balance, tdg’s file is a little better at conveying the overall area and may well be the better file for day-to-day use. prospero246’s file is quite good, however, and the feel is remarkably different than tdg’s version, so you might check both out and see which version works best for you.

tdg’s file is located here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/44654-lmml-malta-international-airport/

…while prospero246’s newer file is here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/45472-europe_malta_lmml/

//

A couple of revisions to LIRJ Elba came out recently; the first included AlpilotX’s Treelines-Farms-Europe file, and the second omitted that file due to conflicts with other airports. Here are a couple of images with the revised Treelines included version:

LIRJ 1.4

Note: tdg made this one in 2014, though we’ve not looked at it yet. qvwnMadness‘ file can be found here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/45719-lirj-elba-airport-marina-di-campo/

//

We pulled our review of Rim & Co’s SAWH after word of inappropriate use of intellectual property (e.g., illegal file & object use) was reported, and we’ve noted that all Rim & Co files have all been pulled by the major stores after legal action was undertaken in the relevant jurisdictions, so we would guess that’s one more development company gone from the scene. Regardless, we wanted to re-post Danita Baire’s SAWH imagery and file information, if only because her work is so good and deserves wider use and recognition. This information was tied to the original Rim & Co post, but no longer. Enjoy, and let her know if you like the file.

SAWH free comp 3

Truly exceptional work, isn’t it?

SAWH free comp 1

You can get her file here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/33939-sawh-ushuaia-argentina-malvinas-argentinas-intl/

Thanks for dropping by. We’ll see you again soon – A

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x+s+r // random thoughts

748 XSR hdr

I find it odd that after all these years puttering around in X-plane there’s still not an up-to-date LFPG, let alone an Orly or even a decent Lyon. xpfr’s latest CDG first hit the servers back in v8, which by any definition imaginable makes it bloody ancient, and their latest version of Orly, though it’s listed as Xp11 compliant, is a dismal looking affair that looks like it, too, was make back in v8 – then updated with some starburst lighting to make it look new again. And I’m not ragging on xpfr either; they’ve got their own priorities and I’m sure the last thing they want is some gringo telling them what to do, but every now and then something happens that makes this state of affairs seem almost absurd.

So, yeah, a revised LFPG came out this week and of course it wasn’t made for Xp11, yet I’m not sure that even matters. There is an LFPG in Global Airports (made by none other than Jan Vogel, IXEG alum and WED YouTube guru), but again, no matter, as WED allows you to create all kinds of boxes to use as terminals…and CDG is made of everything and anything but straight lines. So the end results are practical, but disappointing even so, yet even a quick trip over to aeroSoft will tell you that the only file over there (Mega Airports CDG) is an older file for FsX/P3D that looks almost cartoonish. If it was ported to Xp? Well, no thanks. I’d prefer to see Mr X or JustSIM tackle this airport.

Mind you, CDG is arguably the most important European gateway airport there is, though some might argue for Heathrow or Frankfurt, or even Amsterdam, as The Most Important (my vote goes for Zurich, by the way). Who cares, right? The point is this – there are great payware files for each of these airports, yet none for CDG. None, as in never has been.

And why is that? Is this airport simply too hard to make, or is there some sort of anti-France thing going on in the development community that many of us simply know nothing about?

So yeah, CDG needs to be made, but Orly and Lyon do too. But what about up-to-date payware files for Helsinki, Copenhagen, or even ESSA? Or Athens and Istanbul? Madrid? Lisbon? Gibraltar – let alone Beijing and Tokyo? Is the payware community content to let tdg make their labors totally unnecessary? Because by turning out one or two files a year, that’s exactly what’s going to happen, and the only way you can beat tdg’s volume of quality work is to make your files exponentially that much better, and faster. So, just as it was almost ten years ago, you aren’t going to compete as a one man shop. You need to form teams and then post a development timeline on Facebook. Stake out your territory and get to work, then keep up to date by using all the tools Laminar is making available to you. Mr X is doing fine right now, JustSIM is too, so success can be had if you follow the evolving paradigm.

Or sit back and claim the X-plane market is too tough to crack.

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And why is it that aircraft file developers, by and large, update their files regularly as new features come along, but most scenery developers don’t? aeroSoft’s first file for X-plane, BIKF Keflavik, looks today just like it did, well, a very long time ago. Why? Some developers are providing an upgrade path for radically revised files, while others post free updates for much the same level of work. Okay. That works, but why do some other noted developers just make a file and then leave it alone, stuck, as it were, back in late v9 or early v10 compliance? Can’t you at least do the work and then charge five bucks for an upgrade path?

There are tons of aircraft files that fall into this category, too, and they even have their own name now: abandonware. That’s just a great state of affairs, isn’t it? And when stores still market files that only work with ancient versions of X-plane, why do they duck and cover when buyers scream about being swindled? Just how long will X-plane continue to attract new users if that keeps up? I’ve got a Beech Duchess and two A330s, all recently purchased, all gathering dust and stores who, apparently, could care less. Again, how many long term users are you going to keep in the Sim with that kind of malarkey going on? You only get to burn a guy once, by and large, before they walk away.

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I recently asked (anonymously, as always) a livery painter for a paint I thought was needed for the A319/A320 world (Ellinair) and in return for my efforts got a nice “f*ck you” in return. This person ranted that it takes time to make a livery and that no one appreciates his work, and man-o-man, I wanted to reply but just closed the note and went on about my business. This character was the exception, and I’ve successfully asked dozens of painters over the years to make a paint, but what would happen if that request had been from a user new to the forums over at the org? Bye-bye new user?

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Aren’t we almost at the point where we need to fight to keep everyone we can interested in flight simulators in general? Between first-person shooters and online porn it’s getting more and more difficult to get young people into the virtual cockpit, so if X-plane or P3D are going to make it into the 2020s a real concerted effort is going to have to be made to keep users engaged, and satisfied that their needs are being met.

And guess what? No one can do that but developers and the stores that sell those files. It comes down to that, or a dwindling base focused on freeware. With just a handful of developers turning out a file or two a year, there’s just not going to be a happy ending, for anyone, on any platform.

There’s been a real push over the years in many industries to focus on customer service, and maybe its time that push came to the flight simulation services world. Why not a service where someone comes to a “store” and says something like this to a “personal shopper” on staff with the store: “I want a general aviation single to fly between x, y, and z. Given that I have a Belchfire 1500 PC, what do you recommend I buy to make this purchasing experience as trouble free as possible?” No obsolete files, no hardware BS because a GPU isn’t big enough. Just a smooth, trouble-free experience. Is that too much to ask?

Think that might sell a few Cessnas?

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Finally, a last word tonight on Rim & Cos’ new SAWH airport file. I received word about the file from Stephen Dutton earlier this evening, and perhaps I should just pass this along verbatim: “Note to all – RimCo’s scenery is at the moment under a legal situation for using objects in their sceneries created by not one but two developers, in other words they stole them… and used them without authorisation.”

I have no idea whether this arose via use of objects from the CDB or OpenSceneryX libraries. If the objects involved are from Danita’s terminal buildings at SAWH (or from some other developer’s files), that will be the end of Rim & Co., and I’d hate to see that happen, for many reasons. Hopefully this will turn out to be an innocent authorization issue and things can be amicably resolved, but this highlights an issue rarely talked about “on the record”: piracy among developers. There’s a long, sordid history of that in the aircraft file development world, but let’s not go there, okay? This is neither the time, nor the place.

Stephen? Again, thanks for the heads up. Good hearing from you, and keep up the good work – C

xsr end piece.png

from Jan Vogel’s LFPG in the Xp11.25rc2’s World Airports folder.
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x+s+r // edny + ltai

xsr edny ltai

This week marked the introduction of the latest Airbus, the A220, even though it is simply a rebranded Canadair CS100, but hopefully the move will spur some enterprising developers to get nice, working versions of these aircraft into X-plane!

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Okay, so right off the mark I have to admit that neither of the two airport files we’re looking at today interested me going in, and yet, when it was all over I ended up liking both files immensely. One of them, EDNY, I’ve flown into and out of several times (in X-plane, that is), and the other, LTAI, not once. I’ve used a couple of different files at EDNY before trying aeroSoft’s latest today, and it’s easy to think of this airport as just a little regional facility with little to offer. That’s just wrong, as we’ll see. And while I’ve flown over Turkey a few times (both in X-plane and otherwise) I’ve never been anywhere near Antalya, and we found the landscape around this coastal city both rugged and serene. Once you take a look around the area I think you’ll be impressed enough to try this airport too.

Ready? Let’s dive right in.

EDNY hdr

aeroSoft’s EDNY Bodensee Airport – Friedrichshafen is a comparatively small international airport that packs a real visual punch. Located in far-southern Germany and on the banks of Lake Constance (nee Bodensee), the industrial city of Friedrichshafen, as well as the airport, are of extreme historical importance, having seen the first scheduled zeppelin flights as wells the birth of Lufthansa. The home of Dornier Aircraft is located here as well, and the airport also houses the Dornier Museum, and the museum, as well as a few static aircraft on display, are included in the model.

The real airport is in dire financial straits, with the local airline failing and passenger numbers falling. Yet even so, the list of airlines and destinations shows some fun opportunities here…enough to make this a very useful little file – for both RJs and longer range heavy metal…including flights to LTAI Antalya.

We looked at a recent freeware version of this airport a few weeks ago, and as decent as that file was it in no way competes with aeroSoft’s new file. While it’s not a bad file, this freeware version omits the Zeppelin area, the museum, and even the rail platform across the street from the main terminal entrance. All these items are included in aeroSoft’s version, by the way…with a lot more waiting to be discovered.

Just below, a few images from the freeware version:

EDNY freeware.png

Developers of aeroSoft’s version appear to have gone out of their way to bring the area around the airport into the file, so you’ll find a BMW/Mini-Cooper dealership and all sorts of named businesses that really exist along Flughafenstrasse, and this kind of immersive detail sets the file apart from others I’ve seen recently by aeroSoft. And yeah, I like this level of detail. If it’s really there on the ground it needs to be in the file, and on our screens. That’s what payware is supposed to be all about, and this file succeeds.

EDNY comp 1

Where this file falls apart, once again, is in aeroSoft’s new paradigm of not getting static aircraft on the ramps, and not a lot of ground clutter, too. They’re relying on WT3 and X-Life to get the job done for them, and this is a mistake. At the very least, they ought to offer files with and without static aircraft again.

Night textures are an improvement over recent efforts, but with an airport terminal so small it’s a wonder they didn’t model the interior? Another mistake? I think so, yes.

EDNY comp 2

All the other detail in and around the airport sets this file apart, however, and you end up with skin to “the sum is greater than its parts.” For RJ flights to several European cities, as well as to the Canary Islands and Greece/Turkey, this is a Must Have file. It’s at the aeroSoft and Org stores.

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LTAI hdr

They call it the Turkish Riviera.

Fly around here for an hour or so and you’ll understand why.

With terrain that reminds of the Cannes/Nice area, or even Santa Barbara, California, you can see why this is one of the busiest airports not just in Turkey, but in all Europe, too. So, when the snow starts falling in northern climes the heavy metal starts heading south, and a bunch of it heads right here. Why? Well, take a look:

Antalya 1

As these images from wikipedia attest, what you’ll find in Antalya is a cosmopolitan city nestled between a gorgeous coast and several dramatic mountain ranges. You’ll also find an airport that handles more airlines and destinations than many, much more “famous” airports in western Europe.

And here’s a bonus dividend: you can take-off in Cyprus (LCLK) and fly here, then make the short hop to LGHI Chios, then on to tdg’s Athens, and have your day capped off at LGKR Corfu. You’ll spend a few hours immersed in a captivating landscape, punctuated by arrivals at some of the best airports in X-plane.

Still not convinced? Well, take a look at our images, and keep in mind that JustSIM is behind some of the best airport files released over the last year or so.

LTAI comp 1

The view out the front office window is telling here, and note: it only gets better at night. Foliage and grasses are a standout feature here, too.

LTAI comp 2 pitvu

Approaching the area via the coast at night was a real treat, as the city, with the airport beyond, simply begins to mesmerize as you close on the coast. The airport at night is then a real highlight, and though interiors are not modeled the night window textures are varied and uniformly immersive. Indeed, not many airport files in X-plane are as interesting at night.

LTAI comp 3

Ramps are a little dim, and some might want more clutter on the terminal ramp areas, but this is a huge airport as it stands and piling-on even more clutter than there is already might bring things to a standstill, so it looks like a good compromise was reached.

LTAI comp 4

JustSIM’s LTAI is a Must Have file for those wanting a large airport in the eastern Med. With so many non-stops to the most important airports in Europe and Russia, this file ought to get heavy use from most users. It’s at the Org Store right now.

So, again, two very surprising, and surprisingly good airport files, and if these airports fit into your plans, they won’t disappoint. They’re very different, but both were a joy to fly out of. Thanks to the developers for their hard work, and thank you for dropping by; we’ll see you again soon – A

Posted in Europe Regional Routes, Scenery: Europe, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

x+s+r // Guernsey + Manzanillo

xsr egjb.png

We’ve made no secret around here…tdg and ruifo are two of the best freeware scenery developers in X-plane, and some might argue they are THE best – and we wouldn’t dispute that, either. Why these two are making payware is beyond me, too. If each, or the two in concert, developed their own scenery library(s) – in the same way DD has, by the way – they could crank out dozens of files a year and laugh all the way to the bank.

Well, they haven’t and as a result the X-plane community has excellent airports in the less-frequented regions most payware developers fear to tread…and needless to say, the user experience in X-plane is richer, deeper, and more meaningful as a result of these two developer’s tireless work.

For a time last year these two were releasing a couple of files a week (!!!) – and they were great files, too, then things grew quiet. Ruifo disappeared for a while, and output from tdg fell off to a comparative trickle, which is why, when we saw that both had released new files today you could hear corks popping inside Chaos Manor.

So, two new files in two more than useful locales. What more could you want to brighten up your Monday?

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egjb hdr

Located just off the NW coast of France and a near the western approaches to the English Channel, the Channel Islands include the two principle islands of Guernsey and Jersey, as well as several smaller islands and islets. A Crown dependency, the islands have a special relationship to both the UK and the EU that is beyond the scope of this review.

channel islands map

tdg’s latest freeware file, for EGJB | Guernsey is about as good as freeware can get, and his legendary attention to detail is on full display here. Everything, from lighting to ramps to static aircraft to parked cars is peerless, and in use the airport is without fault. Cars are driving on the “right” side of the road, and I don’t know whether this is correct or not, but that was about the only question I had after poking around here for an hour or so…

EGJB comp 1

tdg’s latest can be had by going here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/45786-egjb-guernsey-airport/

We highly recommend you do. Oh, who has a thing for Chevy Camaros?

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ruifo has a history.

He’s put together an almost impossible number of scenery files in both Brazil (180+) and Indonesia (30+), and earlier this year he turned his attention to airports in Mexico. So – at last! – we had someone, and a competent scenery developer at that, taking Mexican airports in hand and leading them into the light of day, in X-plane, anyway. And if anyone poo-poos the state of aviation in Mexico they really have no idea what’s going on in the world today. Commercial aviation plays a huge role in Mexican commerce, from petroleum extraction to manufacturing to tourism, and Mexico has one of the most vibrant economies in the world.

And when we look at today’s new file, for MMZO | Manzanillo Playa de Oro International Airport, we’re looking at an airport that, by-and-large, services the tourist trade.

las hadas

Located at the north end of Manzanillo Bay, Las Hadas is a world famous resort that has, for decades now, catered to the upper end of the tourist market. The actress Elizabeth Taylor once lived here almost full-time, and if you’ve ever seen the movie “10” – with Dudley Moore and Bo Derek – you’ve seen Las Hadas. Oddly enough, Manzanillo has seen a number of comparable resorts develop in the region in recent years and the demand for air service has skyrocketed.

So, yes, it’s nice to finally have a nice, indeed, an excellent new airport to use here. Let’s take a look…

Oops, sorry…

mmzo comp

Keep in mind that ruifo uses only Laminar’s assets in his files, so no additional scenery libraries are required. I know a bunch of users who simply will not use airport files that require scenery library objects because of the never-ending aggravation of 1) finding all the necessary files, 2) installing them, and finally 3) keeping them all up to date…so look over what ruifo has accomplished here with just one library on hand, and recall that one comes pre-installed with X-plane. Yes, in time and if Laminar stopped upgrading these objects, many files would begin to look quite similar to one another, but this option does allow for more people to get their hands on your files. As always, there’s no simple way out of this dilemma, but the next time you set out to make a new freeware airport, you might give it a try and see what happens.

ruifo has added a small ortho that includes a nice surf-line, and he’s loaded the immediate area with appropriate foliage. Ramps and lighting are, as usual, just about perfect, and the effect is payware quality perfection. In the end, ruifo’s MMZO is another Must Have file, and again, our thanks to both of these dedicated artists.

Get ruifo’s file here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/45781-mx-mmzo-manzanillo-playa-de-oro-intl-airport-2018/

That’s all for today. We’ll see you next time – A

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