x+s+r // EDXE + CYYF + TBM850

xsr 732 ac

A new file by tdg highlights this issue, while a revised Canadian file adds versatility and more interesting visuals. Finally, we’ll take a short hop in the Carenado TBM850, taking notes along the way, so we can better compare the new HotStart TBM900 when it releases (and hopefully X-Aviation is still on track for a Saturday early a.m. release).

Also, note that Open Scenery X (OSX) posted a major update today, from 2.x to a new version 3.0. This version incorporates the RE library and also will force scenery designers to tweak existing files as there have been some major changes that will alter the appearance of some items in older airport files. Run your OSX installer to get this important update onboard.

I’ve had a couple people ask about what clouds I’m using to get these apricot colored skies. Well, SkyMAXX Pro, of course. It’s the Vincent Van Gogh of cloud programs…very impressionistic, don’t you think?

Ready with your coffee? Let’s get to it!

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EDXR hdr

tdg continues to work on very small, out of the way airports, and this week he’s still in Northern Germany. EDXR Rendsburg is located along the Kiel Canal in the Schleswig-Holstein region, and is about 50nmi NNW of Hamburg. The airfield hosts a large number of sport flying clubs, and is a popular gathering spot for all kinds of pilots, from ultra-lights and gliders to more run of the mill GA aircraft. Pilots from HohnAFB, a local airbase, also practice steep approaches here, in Transall C160 medium sized tactical transport aircraft. The RV/caravan park on the east end shows in Google Earth, too.

tdg has included large shipping traffic in the canal, and a smattering of small GA aircraft on the ramps, but there’s more…

EDXE c1

It would seem that tdg is concentrating on small details and foliage work in these new projects, as if he’s honing new skills. Regardless, there’s a more human touch on hand, almost a painterly quality to this latest work. Impressionistic? Well, you decide…but Van Gogh was big on sunflowers…

EDXE c2

So, this one’s for GA pilots once again, those flying in Northern Germany at that, so perhaps of more limited appeal. Still, it’s quite nice to fly the pattern here, using ships as marks to practice touch ‘n goes, so I’d recommend it for anyone flying small GA singles.

Link: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/47799-edxr-rendsburg-airport-germany/

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Prospero246’s CYYF Penticton uses the latest Laminar art assets and the metallic terminal looks quite interesting with HDR active. This airport is in the Canadian Rockies and there’s commercial service from here to Vancouver on Air Canada Express, and Calgary via WestJet, yet this remains a GA airport at heart.

CYYF

Nicely done, too, the only drawback I see is its not compatible with TerraMAXX, so no snow on the airport grounds in winter.

CYYF c1

Still, this is a Must Have for flying the BC/Alberta regions, and you can pick it up here:

https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/41841-canada_bc_cyyf/

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Opening at KTTF Custer Gateway in the Carenado TBM850, I hopped up to Turbulent Design’s KMBS MBS International – one of the best payware files in X-plane, by the way – just to work through the procedures Carenado modeled in their version of this aircraft. I have no doubt HotStart/X-Aviation’s version of the -900 will be radically different, however, so don’t read too much into this.

First, Carenado deployed their own G1000 system in this v3.2 .acf, and this is a relatively early version of the Garmin panel system. There’s little in the way of complex systems in this version, but the moving map display is useful. Manipulator controls on the panels and on the little keyboard are often uncooperative, sometimes downright awful, but the AP works, and works well. Flying a coupled approach here (under VFR, to check alignments) was easy, the results spot-on.

The aircraft climbs with real authority, and going up to 10,000 was painlessly quick. Getting to a cruise at 275 ground speed was quick, too. You need to plan your descents carefully, however, as this .acf does not want to bleed speed quickly; a long downwind works well for this, and bleed as much energy as you can turning base and onto your long final, then settle in around 105-110 KIAS, slowing gently until your flare.

C TMB850 1

All-in-all, this version is an easy rider and not a real challenge to learn or fly. I’d certainly not recommend it as a first aircraft after learning in a Cessna 150, but for a turboprop it’s not so difficult to get a handle on that a relative newcomer with real interest can’t learn it in a few hours. It is a Carenado, too, so very easy on the eyes.

It will, needless to say, be interesting to see how HotStart’s -900 version differs…

That’s all for now. We’ll seeya soon –

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x+s+r // MMCE + KDSM + EIME

xsr 732 hdr

If you haven’t heard the news yet, X-Aviation will be releasing the new HotStart TBM-900 first thing Saturday morning. Check out the first bit of engine management information here, but note this is going to be an extremely deep simulation – so probably not a casual file for the uninitiated. Carenado’s TBM-850 remains stuck in v3.2 limbo, a v10 file that does works reasonably well in v11, yet even so this new TBM comes at a welcome time. Below, images from the current Carenado file:

850

The primary differences between the 850 and 900? “The TBM 900 model features several ergonomic improvements within the cockpit, increasing both simplicity and automation. A new single power lever integrates the power, propeller and condition lever controls. Various switches and controls, such as some formerly present upon the overhead panel, have been eliminated. The electrical system is powered by a single main generator, which is supplemented by a belt-driven alternator. On the TBM 900, electrical load distribution changes enable the Garmin G1000 glass cockpit to power up in sync with the switch-on of the battery with little battery drain. The G1000 also has upgraded displays, including an ISA temperature deviation indication, integrated weather radar and MFD map, and automatic landing field elevation inputs to the pressurization controller. Other changes include various aerodynamic refinements, including winglets and a redesigned induction system. Maximum cruise speed increased to 330 kn at FL310. Range of 1,730 nmi (with 45-minute standard IFR reserves) at 252 kn and 37 gph, or 1,585 nmi at 290 kn. The previously optional Hartzell five-blade carbon fiber propeller is now standard, increasing performance and decreasing cabin noise.” (wikipedia)

Systems in this new aircraft could be quite revolutionary for X-plane, and we’ll have a quick first look up and our reactions to the file as soon as we can get our grubby little paws on it. A new entry on the .acf’s synthetic vision implementation was posted today at X-Aviation’s forum, if you’d like to read up on it. Below, a 900 in action:

900

Meanwhile, our post today includes a look at ruifo’s latest, a revised Des Moines, Iowa airport file, and a bit of fiction located just SW of Dublin, Ireland. Ready? Let’s take a look…

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MMCE hdr

ruifo continues to work around the Yucatan Peninsula, this time revising his v10 MMCE to v11 standards. Ciudad del Carmen is located in the deep southern reaches of Campeche Bay and is a critical facility serving Mexico’s offshore oil fields. In other words, you can expect a lot of helicopter OPS here – in addition to scheduled airline service to several domestic destinations in Mexico.

This is vintage ruifo, so you’ll find a well executed LegoBrick airport nicely suited to both helicopter OPS and RJ flights…not to mention modest GA facilities.

MMCE 1

There are lots of commercial buildings around the airport, primarily oil field service companies as well as air cargo warehouses.

This neat little file is available here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/47770-mx-mmce-ciudad-del-carmen-intl-airport-2018/

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KDSM hdr

We’ve covered this one before, but the file is now into v2.0 territory and is maturing nicely, with more perimeter detail added this afternoon.

American, Delta and United all work out of here, but so too do Allegiant, Frontier and Southwest, so there’s a good variety to work with from here, including GA and military OPS.

KDSM 1

Lots of standout features, including the Jetways and parking garage, and now we’ve got a Holiday Inn to rest up at after a nice long day in the air…!

KDSM 2

I’d say this is a Must Have for folks working the US Midwest. The file is located here:

https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/43857-kdsm-des-moines-international/

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EIME hdr

EIME is currently a military base, but Ryanair has been eyeing the facility for possible expansion so…why not move out the military – in X-plane?

And that’s what we have here…a kind of fantasy airport…and it’s kind of well done, too.

EIME

And as you can see in the last image above, the location is very convenient to the city of Dublin, if not the pattern at EIDW Dublin International…

Oh well, give it a try. Maybe Ryanair will have their way one more time.

https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/47774-eime-dublin-south-airport/

We’ll see you next time. Take care –

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x+s+r // MMHO and Scenery Development

xsr mmho hdr

It’s been fun watching the “competition” between tdg and ruifo develop this past year…if you could justifiably call it that. They are both masters at creating the “scenery library” type of airport file, yet if I was at all interested in creating scenery files of any sort for Xp, whether payware of freeware, I’d certainly pay close attention to how these two structure their models, as week after week they craft one great airport after another. Amazing, to say the least, and these two have really left their mark on X-plane. It is hard to imagine where we’d be without all their hard work, and great talent.

We’ll look at that talent today, in ruifo’s latest 2018 MX file – this time for MX-MMHO Hermosillo, located near the coast of Mexico’s Sea of Cortez and not all that far from the Arizona border. We’ll also take a quick look at several other prevailing modeling styles as currently used by a variety of developers – just as a sort of reminder, or perhaps eye-opener is a better choice of words. Still, ruifo’s MMHO provides a mini-master class in how to structure a small airport to be both faithful to the original and visually more than immersive – and all while using Laminar’s LegoBrick art assets…as provided in Wed, and nothing else.

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MMHO hdr

Hermosillo is located on the Sea of Cortez, and Phoenix, Arizona is located about 300 miles to the North. Most traffic here is domestic, while American Eagle handles Phoenix.

The point today is to talk about ruifo’s sort of development, as – along with tdg – he has developed a style that is both immersive and economical. You’ll find detail, in other words, but not too much. He seems as concerned with performance as much as he is with modeling detail, yet his files are hyper detailed – where it counts.

As you look over the images of Hermosillo below, I want you to keep the word “layering” firmly in mind:

MMHO c1

And by layering, I mean something like sedimentary strata…of lighting, of structural elements and supporting ground detail, all coming together to impart depth to a scene.

In the next set, try to pinpoint elements, from objects to lighting, and see how these elements are grouped together, how they help create depth in the scenery…

MMHO c2

He uses light masterfully, too. Look at the next set of images, try to count the number of different types of lighting in each image. Breaking these elements up into dynamic groups is just another way to create immersive depth…

MMHO c3

Yet you can use all sorts of objects to create depth, too…

MMHO c4

So…why is depth necessary? Simply because you’re looking at a flat screen. In order to create a convincingly immersive scene you simply have to create an honest sense of depth, or your scene will look flat, almost cartoonish.

Another element ruifo uses that many payware developers don’t is roof detail, from air conditioning compressors to all kinds of duct work, ruifo’s roofs help bring more realism to the scene than a simple ortho used as a roof does.

roof details

So, let’s look at this one scene again and count the elements that are used to create depth: the fences up front, then the pallets and other cargo items, ramp detail, four types of lighting, trucks, buildings, foliage by the runway, and then on the far side of the runway. Okay, got it?

pallette fence

Now let’s go back over a few of the more interesting, and in a few cases more disappointing, files that came out over the last year, starting with one of the best: aeroSoft’s EDDF Frankfurt…

EDDF

The developers did not model any interiors here, but instead took another route: they used highly detailed phototextures. These textures reveal interior detail and impart a warmth to the scene that we’ve rarely seen before… The 789 Lufthansa paint was new this week, too.

eddf 2

The problem with such phototextures on a large building is such scenes become repetitive from gate to gate, yet we’re only parked at one gate at a time – so is that such a big deal? I like this EDDF, and the experience of pulling up to the gate here feels immersive enough to earn this file a 9 out of 10.

aeroSoft’s EDDC Dresden has all the ingredients of a successful file too – until you get to night textures…

eddc 1

…when the scene becomes cold and dark, almost devoid of life. Windows are either black or faint smears of blue, and you half expect zombies to come shuffling out of the doors at any moment…

aeroSoft’s Larnaca, Cyprus tells much the same story…a great model complete with amazing detail on the ramps…but after the sun goes down the terminal windows are a wash of smeary blue-gray haze. Another great effort ruined.

LCLK

FlyDesign’s EPSY is one of the best files of the year, and in no small part because this small terminal is completely modeled…inside and out…

EPSY

And then there’s DDs EPWA Warsaw, the best of the best:

EPWA

And this model proved once and for all time that large scale modeled interiors CAN be executed without destroying performance. Pulling up to a gate is a jaw dropping moment the first time you come here, one of the great experiences in X-plane – because there’s simply no alternative to a modeled interior if you want to impart maximum realism to a scenery file.

We’re seeing more and more files in development with such interiors, notably Short Final’s EDDM München, and we hope there will be more to come. Critical mass has been reached with powerful and affordable GPUs becoming more mainstream, allowing this transition in detail to take place. Now it’s time for scenery developers to jump on this bandwagon – and take all our files to the next level.

Laminar could help this transition along by developing new art assets with true 3D interior models already in place. Failing that, third party scenery libraries could lead the way, allowing freeware developers to keep pace with more innovative payware developers…but for now, payware has the edge – and they should take advantage of it while they can.

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More coming soon. We’ll see you then –

 

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x+s+r // KMSP + EDCG

xsr msp hdr

Talking with a few more folks about the A310 issue led to some wide-ranging discussions about the state of development in X-plane. Needless to say, there are a few problem areas still cropping up, namely the lingering dominance of freeware scenery in our market. Still, word is that the more famous FsX developers who have tested the waters over here have been more than happy with the response they’ve had so far, and we can expect more scenery files from them, perhaps by the end of the year or early next. One common concern has been that a few FsX developers are dropping old, obsolete files on us, trying to squeeze a few more bucks out of tired old files, and the consensus is those few (dare we call them unscrupulous?) developers are earning a well deserved reputation for pawning off crap to an impatient market. No need to call out names, but I reckon most folks know who we’re talking about. Another tidbit? Work on one 742 is about done, so we may have that to look forward to this year, as well.

So…we have two freeware scenery files on the ramp tonight, and one of them (KMSP) is a revision, while the new EDCG file is from tdg…and both of these files are emblematic of the issue at hand. This thoroughly revised MSP file is getting so good it has now completely blurred the line between payware and freeware. Sure, there are still a few rough spots, but all-in-all this work has morphed into a seriously impressive file.

And tdg is playing the trickster again, this time with an über small airport on an island in the Baltic. If this file wasn’t so particularly interesting you might pass it over as unworthy of consideration, but one word to the wise: DON’T. Yes, it’s small. Yes, it’s an out-of-the-way location. And yes, it’s got awesome possibilities. All of which begs the question…why isn’t this guy making payware?

Anyway, let’s dive in and check things out.

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MSP hdrIf you’ve ever flown into this airport you can look at the images just below and without a doubt know exactly where you are (even if in X-plane). This freeware file not only looks uncannily accurate, it employs custom objects and bloody well is uncannily accurate. As MSP is one of Delta’s largest and most important hubs, this is a vitally important airport file for any commercial operator in X-plane to have on hand. If a Delta fan, this one is crucial.

Here’s the background of this version of KMSP:

KMSP v0.8 Scenery courtesy of Todd Fleck, updated and uploaded with his permission
Orthoimagery adjusted by Dhruv Kalra
Updated by Daniel Everman

  • Custom-modeled airport buildings and surrounding area, including Mall of America and Downtown Minneapolis.
  • Airport layout updated to match the current airport, including the extension of the Humphrey terminal.
  • Orthophotos for airport and surrounding areas.
  • Groundroutes for use with AI traffic programs.
  • Animated jetways and ground traffic using Autogate/GroundTraffic by Marginal.

In addition, there have been numerous additions to areas immediately surrounding the airport, including two parks with lighted baseball diamonds…as we’ll see below.

MSP c1

Autogates now active except out on the RJ ramps is just one highlight; the expanded SunCountry terminal west of the main terminal is active now with lots of static aircraft.

PBR materials and HDR lighting are used to maximum effect now, too. One nice aspect of this file is the included additional Minneapolis City File, which offers a thorough and complete city skyline.

MSP c2

The lighting looks great whenever and wherever employed.

While the JarDesign Ground Handling Package looks good out on these ramps, you’ll find tons of relevant vehicles where aircraft are likely to be parked.

MSP 3

The remodeled terminal is up-to-date, and includes all the latest additions and revisions to gate layouts.

MSP c4

My biggest gripe continues to be a lack on night lighting on (or from inside) most of the terminal buildings. The central hotel is dark at night, as well. A last issue? The central parking lot uses a smeary ortho to depict parked cars on the uppermost deck.

The Signature FBO is modeled now, and several biz jets are parked on these ramps.

MSP c5

And above, the baseball diamonds are prominently visible on several approaches or while on downwind, and there are multiple air cargo areas, all modeled nicely and full of relevant static aircraft and ground vehicles. The SSG 748F and JD GHE package works wonders here, too.

MSP 748F

All-in-all, this file has now reached a kind of critical mass; it’s just about perfect. So good there’s no reason not to have this file onboard…and you can pick it up here:

https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/46321-kmsp-minneapolis-saint-paul-international-airport/

A 10/10 Must Have file.

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EDCG hdr

Located one hundred and twenty miles almost due north of Berlin, the little airport on this island of Rugen is closer to Copenhagen than it is to either Berlin or Hamburg. While primarily a GA facility, the airport’s terminal also handles charter flights to Berlin, Hamburg, and other cities throughout Europe.

Why?

Spas, 19th century spas, often with stunning architecture, as well as the white chalk cliffs located along the water’s edge in Jasmund National park.

The airport is small, and only recently developed a paved runway and taxiway. Most aircraft parking is still on grass.

Rugen real

tdg makes great freeware airports, usually very big commercial airports loaded with impressive layers of detail, so when he comes along and makes a small facility like this you kind of have to wonder why. Well, the location is certainly unique, but beyond that why make this airport?

Maybe it comes down to personal choice. Getting tired of making on huge airport after another, perhaps it was simply time for a change…but then again…look at this airports location…then keep in mind the area has been a famous resort area for hundreds of years.

So…flights from all over Germany are a given, but so too are flights from Denmark, Sweden, and Finland. Poland, too, would be appropriate…so join us in the pattern as we land at EDCG Rugen…and see what else this little gem has to offer…

tdg ed

Note the proximity to the sea here, and to almost constant wind. Tricky final!

While the airport isn’t typically open at night, arrangements can be made for night OPS. tdg thoughtfully included interesting lighting features to really liven the place up a bit.

tdg ed nite

Check out the light on the control tower in the last image just above. Textures and HDR at MAX.

So…? What stands out to me is the foliage work around the airport perimeter. ScottishWings often goes to such extremes but I don’t recall tdg going to such botanical effort before. The areas around both runway thresholds are a riot of flowers and blooming shrubs, while the little terminal looks amazing at night…

So…was tdg working on new skills here? Time will tell, but again…the question remains…why isn’t he making payware files?!?!

Get the file here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/47735-edcg-rugen-airport-germany/

Anyway, y’all have fun out there, and we’ll seeya around the campfire –

 

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x+s+r // Odds & ends

xsr 310 nyc

Air Tahiti Nui took delivery of their first 789 last week and they have big plans for the aircraft. They’ll soon phase out their leased A340s and add more Dreamliners as they look to increase non-stop service to a bunch of new destinations. Wild livery, no?

789 Tahiti

Perfect for the MagKnight 789, I reckon…

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310 a

About that new payware A310 we mentioned a few days back… There’s some pretty interesting feedback being generated by some dissatisfied customers (read a few such comments here). The good news? While the Org is not directly refunding customers – they have issued store credit – so at the very least they are, in a manner of speaking, acknowledging the problem. But is this a case of buyer beware, or worse? I doubt it, but things are rarely as simple as they might appear on the surface, so let’s amplify the situation a bit and try to wrap our head around a few possibilities.

When a new developer approaches a sales team like the Org, or aeroSoft, or the Threshold Store, they are typically an unknown quantity – but not always. The company’s sales director has to evaluate a potential product based on the new developers’ sales pitch, and if the pitch is good enough the sales director will offer a contract. This contract stipulates that the sales team will market, process payment, and deliver the product for a percentage – and stipulates how taxes and proceeds will be handled and distributed. At this stage, any other conditions must be spelled out to the letter and agreed upon by both parties.

So let’s make-up a hypothetical situation. Grady Nosepicker, a new developer, is pitching his new Belchfire 502. He says right away that he thinks his 502 should sell for 80 bucks and he won’t settle for a dime less. He offers the director pictures of the 502 in various stages of development, as well as a video of the Beta product, and the sales director tells him the 502 might sell well if priced around 30 bucks, but 80 seems unreasonable. Nosepicker insists on 80 and the sales director says, based on his or her prior experience, something like this: “Okay, we’ll take it but don’t be surprised if this thing doesn’t sell well…and we might have to add a few conditions…”

The sales director does so because there’s always an outside chance that Nosepicker’s 502 may turn out to be the sleeper hit of the year, yet because of their concerns they spell out quite clearly what their marketing proposal will be, as well as any limitations or other conditions they want to specify in the contract. Both parties may then sign the contract or walk away, but let’s assume they both agree to the terms and sign.

A week later Nosepicker’s 502 file arrives and the effort appears to be a real dud, yet the sales team is contractually obligated to attempt to sell the file even so – but only in the manner and to the degree specified in the mutually agreed upon terms. If the sales team did their job correctly they’ve protected their company from any adverse effects caused by the dud file, usually by limiting their exposure if refunds become an issue. And note, the EU now strictly enforces software return policies, so the days of “no returns on software” may be very limited indeed.

So, the sales team tries to sell the 502 but its buggy, and worse still, many claimed features simply either aren’t working or are missing altogether. Customers who bought based on promised performance and features are dissatisfied and the sales team is now caught between a rock and a hard place – unless stipulated in the contract are terms describing how they should handle such a situation

But keep in mind for now that the sales director and his team weren’t out to swindle anyone. They were just trying to do business. Got that? It’s just business. Maybe they could have waited to test the product in-house but its a competitive marketplace and perhaps they were concerned Nosepicker might take his business elsewhere. Still, their issue now is to try and contain the damage, and preserve their reputation.

Still, so far there’s no malice between the parties as everything has been spelled out. The sales director and his/her team understands what’s happening and hopefully they’ve protected their company as best they can, knowing full well that without new product going forward the market could dry up and business might slow to potentially unacceptable levels.

And in a nutshell that’s my guess what’s going on with this new A310. There’s no apparent malice on the part of the Org; they just took a gamble that the developer would deliver a finished file as promised and now that it appears this might not be the case they’re trying to take care of their customers as best they can under the circumstances.

But assume this developer’s A310 gets revised and a few months from now turns out to be the sleeper hit everyone hoped it would be. That’s the gamble, in a nutshell, and all sales businesses confront these issues day after day. Deals like this – a potentially interesting file but from an unknown developer – always represents potential risk to the seller; I just don’t like to see the Org, or anyone else for that matter, taking flak for what amounts to the developer failing to deliver the goods as promised. The Org is the one taking the risk here, and without that happening we might not ever see new files come our way. Risk takers are profit makers, they are the engine that pulls this train.

We’ll continue to keep an eye on this situation as best we can and let you know what develops, but for now I’d continue to recommend that if interested in the new payware A310 you read all the reviews and customer comments you can so that you can make the best, most informed buying decision possible. If nothing else, give the developer time to make things right before crying wolf.

BTW, x+sim+reviews does not take gratis copies of payware files; we purchase on the open market just like you. We DO take beta copies and evaluate those if a developer asks us, but we still purchase our final review copy on the open market. Given that we’re not millionaires we are self-limited in what we can review, namely we purchase what interests our little band of reviewers. So, if a file like Nosepicker’s Belchfire 502 comes along and we’re not interested in it, you won’t see a review here. Still, over the years we’ve always been looking out for high quality files that reflect thoughtful design and careful execution – if only because such files represent the best chance for the future success of X-plane.

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733 hi res panel

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

I’ve been wanting to get back to my very own favorite .acf for some time, but things always pop and there’s just not enough time. So, with this slow spell I thought I might get a chance, but no, not in this lifetime, I reckon. BUT…a really cool new Aloha Air Cargo paint for the IXEG 733 popped last night and I jumped all over it, opened the file at Fred’s Honolulu and then sat back…grinning like a fool.

The cockpit image above is bliss, a full 5K resolution – 300dpi bit of eye candy – but look at the next image, at the smooth, subtle variations of white on the fuselage, the perfect pools of light on the pavement ahead. What a great looking file…and remember to thank Laminar for our HDR lighting effects!

Aloha 733 1

In the image below, we can all appreciate the subtle gradations of light cast by the landing lights just ahead of the wing, but how about that bit just in front of the nose gear? Or the tapered fall-off of light on the tail cast by the logo light?

Aloha 733 2

This is a useful new livery, that much is certain, but all meaningless without a great aircraft file to put it on. So, off to pick up some pineapples on Maui?

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MD80 hdr

 

In case you missed it, the Rotate MD-80 was revised early Sunday. We’re now at version 1.42r2, and if you’ve got the x-updater file in your aircraft folder just run it to get up-to-date. If you don’t, you’ll have to re-download the file from your dealer. Here’s the changelog:

– Compatibility with WebFMC Pro 1.0.6+ plugin.
– Compatibility with Terrain Radar plugin.
– Improved trajectory calculation with/without PERF data.
– Fixed a bug in reversion from VNAV mode.
– Fixed a bug in VSPEED mode selection.
– Fixed a bug in estimated speed seen in some waypoints.
– Corrected Stabilizer Motion alert times.
– Fixed a bug Autothrottle switch logic.
– Fixed bug in ARRIVALS page.
– Fixed pitch oscillation in XP-10 variant.
– Fixed bug on LAND annunciator logic.
– Fixed TCAS electrical dependency.
– Corrected 3D model minor errors.
– Corrected some Vref values in the Pilot Handbook.
R MD80 rev

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Carenado C340 + LSZR to LSZH

LSZR St Gallen was just revised again and this file is rapidly approaching “very kewl” levels of quality, so after we opened the file and looked around we decided to fly over to LSZH (the aeroSoft payware version) in the Carenado Cessna 340 IIP. This remains one of our favorite aircraft files and though only a forty mile hop going to Zurich turned out to be a good way to look at all the revisions at St Gallen, and to take another look at that Cessna 340.

LSZR 2

Turns out most of the new features at St Gallen involve ground vehicles, and the overall effect is adding up to a very immersive atmosphere. We’ve recently turned to opening up here to test fly new GA aircraft files, usually flying the “beeline” to EDDS, because this is such a neat little airport to work out of. Tonight we opted for the even shorter run to Zurich.

C340 1

The 340 is an interesting cross of features…almost a 4-series yet still small enough for a solo pilot to handle with ease…and the panel is very well equipped for IFR conditions, right down to the radar altimeter and full sized HSI. Engine management benefits from a Lean Assist module, and panel lighting is off the charts good…as long as you can groove on a purple panel, that is.

Which, mercifully, you can dial away…simply by toning down the blue colored overhead flood lighting. In fact, with no flood lighting the panel turns very dark, almost black in places, while dialing in a little blue turns the panel deep purple (see below). Set the blue flood to full power and the panel turns a very 1960-ish lavender…which is cool, I guess. It is soothing, anyway.

C 340 2

Coming into Zurich Rwy 28 I wanted to test the APs ILS operation and the unit failed to lock onto the GS when about 5 miles out (the LOC locked on no problem); I manually got the GS centered and the unit locked on this time, so perhaps I was too far out? I cut the AP after that and, with a 15 knot crosswind, had my hands full all the way down.

Anyway, LSZR is a Must Have file now, and, well, so is Carenado’s 340II. Assuming you dig Deep Purple, that is.

Hasta later, and Happy Trails –

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x+s+r // PA-28R III-T / IV-T +MMCZ + KXNA

xsr T4 hdr

Word is out now that Delta is taking delivery of its first Airbus 220 on 31 January next and will start using them in five focus cities where they plan to play up the aircraft’s state of the art quality and comfort in advertising aimed at American and United customers (JetBlue has ordered a bunch, too). But…where is the “Airbus 220” for X-plane? Any rumors out there yet?

Today? Two nice freeware airports to go along with our look at JustFlight’s second Piper Arrow. The question, and I mean the obvious question, is: can this new Arrow III-T/IV-T be good enough to warrant purchasing even if you bought their original Arrow III? Well, stay tuned, and let’s find an answer or three along the way.

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Piper T34 hdr

So, lot’s of Arrows being bandied about here – because the name “Arrow” represents a model lineup and not just a single model. To make things even more clear (irony alert) Piper’s Arrows derived from their original Cherokee lineup and many Arrows can hardly be distinguished visually from their older brethren. Like even muddier water? Well, Piper’s Cherokee Six provided the platform for the Saratoga. And an even funnier factoid? Many pilots first learned of Embraer’s high quality standards because they built PA-28s under license in Brazil.

When JustFlight came to X-plane last year they chose to release a normally aspirated Piper Arrow III (the original aircraft’s first flight was in the mid-70s), and the file was met with serious approval. Though some complain(ed) about poor performance (FPS), those with reasonable CPU/GPU horsepower raved about the file’s panel and handling. Here are a couple of images of that .acf (or Aircraft File):

PA3earliermodel

If I have one complaint about JustFlight’s original Arrow III file it’s that the interior looks like two teenagers who are allergic to taking showers live in the thing – full time. Half the pilot’s yoke is stripped bare of paint, the panel looks too worn in places, and the file exudes an underwhelming sense of filth, or perhaps sloth is a better word. In fact, this file was the reigning champ of utter filth until Carenado released their Dornier Do-228, which has a cockpit that looks exactly like someone fed a bunch of raccoons chocolate and laxatives and then locked them in there – and ran like hell. My skin crawls when I look at that panel…and I always feel dirty after using it…

With their second release, the Arrow III-T and IV-T (originals built in ’78) JustFlight opted to make these cockpits look factory fresh – a decision I applaud if only because I no longer feel the need for a rabies shot after flying the things. And because these beasts are turbocharged they are ideal movers for high altitude flights (well, high for a GA piston powered aircraft). Yet…the panels are almost identical to the Arrow III (a general lack of utter filth being the biggest difference, color the other) and, indeed, the only difference between the two Arrow III models is one is turbocharged and the other isn’t, while the Arrow IV-T is primarily different due to its T-tail configuration.

Recognizing this as a potential marketing problem, those folks who purchased the original Arrow III file from the Org Store may purchase the turbocharged Arrow III-T/IV-T combination package for 15 buckeroos (aka US dollars). The original file’s price was about 42 bucks, so add 15 more and for 57 bucks you end up with three unique GA singles, albeit three almost identical GA singles…so the new obvious question becomes – which one of these files is “the best.”

Well, for me the answer became obvious after spending a few hours in the Arrow III-T. The exterior has all the features we’ve come to expect from Carenado and Alabeo, while the cockpit is simply a great place to work. The panel is gorgeously clean and all instruments are brilliantly easy to read and crisply lighted. With a big, fat Garmin 530, two VOR heads as well as an ADF, if you get lost it’s all on you. Yes, I’d prefer to have an even bigger and fatter HSI, and yes, a radar altimeter would be nice too, yet I can make do with this panel quite well, thank you very much.

And to prove the point I took off from LLHZ Herzliya, Israel bound for Larnaca, Cyprus – about 200 nmi distant, and I took off in the middle of a frontal passage (wind blowing like snot, heavy rain). Yet to put it simply this little Piper hauled the mail and with not one problem. Yes, I could feel the turbulence; no, it presented little in the way of handling issues. I got above the weather by 5000MSL and set the AP (which only holds heading, not altitude) then sat back and monitored my trim while I knitted three sweaters and two pairs of socks.

Which brings up a salient point. Some acf are so poorly executed that dialing in elevator trim is a hit or miss affair, and it’s here that having spent some time in real aircraft is a real plus. Real aircraft are almost impossible to trim by using trim tab alone; rather a combination of trim plus throttle is best used to achieve the desired rate of climb or descent, so that to trim for level cruise, climbing or descending, you set power for optimal engine performance then go about getting the trim set as close to possible to level, then coaxing-out the last little differences by adding or subtracting small amounts power. In a poorly executed acf you dial in the trim and away you go, which means, in effect, that if learning to fly in such an .acf you’re going to miss out on learning a more than valuable skill. Carenado and Alabeo get this, and so too does the crew at JustFlight.

Below, the sequence from Israel to Cyprus, and note the rate of climb and speed in the second image (not bad for a single!):

Pa3 1

The last four images above depict a fun training exercise: fly along on a tight downwind and when you get parallel to the thresholds see if you can make the turn onto final while you bleed off enough excess speed to land on the numbers and/or make the first turn-out. Easy to do in a well executed flight model, not so easy in a dud.

Below, taking the IV-T (the T-tailed model) from KTEX Telluride, Colorado on the short hop up to Aspen. Same basic aircraft, the biggest difference being the tail configuration. Same autopilot, too, so no ALT or VS functions…

PA IV c1

…and yet this .acf felt more tender, was a little more difficult to get trimmed for level flight (I put this down to the T-tail). Any other issues? No, not much to report. Instead of being gray, the panel seemed more gray-beige; other than that the cabins were identical.

Below, some of the basic details, all of which are uniformly well executed on all models.

PA3 details

So, assuming you haven’t purchased either one of these files, which should you consider?

Again, this is a simple question. Don’t bother with the original Arrow III, opt for the III-T instead. It’s a little faster, has much better high altitude takeoff performance and rate of climb, while the cabin is modeled clean, not worn (think of the money you’ll save on soap and vaccinations alone). Still, you should consider that when you buy the III-T you also get the IV-T gratis, so two for the price of one.

But what if you already own the Arrow III? Should you go for the Arrow III/IV package?

Only if the performance of the III disappoints you. The files are so similar the only thing “new” you’re buying is high altitude takeoff performance and about 5-10 KIAS more cruise speed. If you love T-tails? Well, that makes things simple, doesn’t it? Anyway, my favorite of the lot was the III-T. Still, its only 15 bucks, so why not get them all…?

Which GA files does the III-T/IV-T most compete with? My nod goes to the Carenado F33A, their C210T, the Alabeo Piper Saratoga II, and the Alabeo Mooney Ovation. The F33A still wins in my book; it has the best overall IFR panel and the best night panel. The Mooney Ovation and this Piper III-T are about tied, while the Cessna’s bright blue panel really puts me off some days… Still, the Alabeo Saratoga II is almost as good as the Bonanza, and this is my take on the five best GA singles in X-plane. But…

…get them all and you’ll never be bored again!

The JustFlight III-T/IV-T file is at the Org Store. Raccoons and laxatives optional.

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MMCZ hdr

ruifo rounds out his collection of Mexican Caribbean resort airports with MMCZ Cozumel today, and you’ll find another LegoBrick creation that needs no third-party scenery library files to run. He adds resort area hotels as well as a small GA airfield a few miles south of the main airport to his usual mix of excellent creation and execution.

This is a very small commercial airport that handles a ton of international traffic (see the complete list here), and the airport is configured in an unusual V-shape (which presents all kinds of new variables for trouble). The airport lacks a real car park and the ramps are a little bare, but it is a small airport. The addition of the area’s hotels and resorts was a good idea, otherwise this would be an overgrown jungle-island airport…

MMCZ 1

Maybe the ramps could be brighter, but that’s about my only gripe. The file sits on a nice ortho with decent undersea features showing on final.

MMCZ 2

The longest runway (5/23) is 10,120 feet long, so bring on that A380, Bubba!

Pick up the file here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/47678-mx-mmcz-cozumel-intl-airport-2018/

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KXNA hdr

So, you don’t know the story behind this airport, huh? No problem, we-got-ya-covered.

First, the University of Arkansas Fayetteville is about 15 miles distant, and 21,000 screaming football addicted kids attend. On Football-Saturdays in the Fall, the population swells by 400-or-so-million people (parents and other alum)…so the need for a good airport became pressing by the 1990s.

And, oh…the headquarters of a little corporation called Wal*Mart is located a few miles away, too.

NOW you understand?

If not, look over the list of airlines and destinations and that might help. Then, take a look at this sweet little file:

KXNA c1

This is a nicely conceived and well executed file; the only issues I have concerns the parking lots and some of the terminal lighting. The parking lots (sorry, car parks) are depicted by simple (smeary) ortho, so points off there. Some of the windows in the terminal were black at night, so that might be an easy fix, and if the developer keeps at it he may end up with one of the better files of the year.

Other than the two issues we mentioned, we think this is a neat addition for pilots in Xp flying in the American South generally, or for those looking for something new in the region. This is a solid 9/10 file worthy of your consideration, and you can pick it up right here:

https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/47685-kxna-northwest-arkansas-regional-airport/

And we’ll see you around the next bend in the road. Hasta later –

Posted in Aircraft file reviews, Mexico & Central America, Scenery: Americas | Tagged | Leave a comment

x+s+r // MMUN + LFEC + LEMD

xsr mmun hdr

Oh…the doldrums…the Ides of October… So few new files come our way, even freeware files, and there’s almost a palpable lingering when we open our browsers, a sense of foreboding every time we hop over to the Org looking for something new…

“What? Still nothing?! What…?”

Well, just like last year we have ruifo and tdg to fill out these tense teasing expectations of ours, and two new files from them today to help ease our suffering through the weekend. Oh…woe is me, whatever shall we do…?

In the set below I’ve used the old freeware A310 and not the new payware model, which seems to be suffering from an acute marketing collapse over at the Org Store. The file doesn’t show up under new releases and there’s been no mention made of it in sales emails I get from them. Maybe the 60 buck price is the reason, or the freeware quality panel, but the thing is this release has got me thinking…again…and that’s always a bad thing. A very bad thing.

Writing about scenery files the other day I think I said something along the lines of: At the very least an good scenery file will take care to engage the sim pilot where the sim pilot most needs to be engaged: approaching the runway, along taxiways, and on the apron approaching the gate or FBO/hanger. Once those things are finished, and I do mean completely finished, the developer can then begin to fill out all the other details…because, after all, Xp is a flight simulator.

Same thing with aircraft files. Get the cockpit done, completely done, then move on to all the other stuff. That new A310 has a marginally finished cockpit for a sixty dollar file, yet it also has opening cargo doors. What? That’s called misplaced development priorities (at the very least), and my guess is that’s why the Org isn’t marketing the file aggressively. I looked at the cockpit images and shrugged, decided to take a pass on this one unless or until the developer gets serious about panel development. At sixty bucks, you need a panel as good looking and functional as Jack’s 732 or even the IXEG 733, yet that new A310 doesn’t even come close. So…the old freeware A310 will still see use…for now. Too bad, because I was looking forward to this new one…and who knows…curiosity might get the better of me once again.

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MMUN hdr

ruifo has been hanging out in the Yucatan this week, first with Isla Mujeres, then the little naval air facility at Tulum (link here, not reviewed); now we have one of the big enchiladas – MMUN Cancun International. If you have any doubts at all about the significance of this airport just peruse the list of airlines and destinations (here) to get an idea of just how far off the mark you are. Anyway, as I write this ruifo just released a new Cozumel file, so you’ll read about that one in the next post.

This is vintage ruifo, and by that I mean this is a pretty straight-forward scenery file. This is, in other words, an Xp11 file that uses NO third party scenery libraries, only Laminar’s in-house assets, and I think this has been a smart move on ruifo’s part. Many people I talk to just won’t bother with freeware airports that are loaded down with a dozen or more scenery library file requirements, and while I can’t blame them I wouldn’t be reviewing many airport files if I did.

So, LegoBricks galore, Down Mexico Way…!

MMUN comp

There appears to be two classes of terminal buildings here: an older tan brick building and a newer looking white building. The older building does NOT have interior lighting so it just looks wrong at night, but that’s the only major issue I found. The newer white buildings have basic 3D night lighting. Oh…note all the high-rise resort developments along the beaches?

MMUN 2

There’s good ramp lighting elsewhere, lots of ground clutter, and the various paved surfaces are marked well and distressed appropriately. All in all, very good work from one of the masters in the X-plane scenery community. Get ruifo’s files here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/profile/219189-ruifo/content/&type=downloads_filehttps://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/profile/219189-ruifo/content/&type=downloads_file

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So, another new file from tdg, but this one is really, really different. And no, it’s not the one seen first below, so let me explain.

tdg’s latest is a tiny airport on an equally tiny island located about twenty miles off the coast of France; this island is served by one carrier, and this carrier flies between two airports, and only these two airports.

The airport in question is LFEC Ushant Island Airport, located just off Cape Finistère, in the Bretagne (Brittany) region of Western France, and the airline in question calls itself Finist’air…a nice play on words. Here’re a couple of images of their one and only C208 (they employ two pilots, two mechanics, and a hostess, BTW):

208 finist air 2

Colorful, to say the least.

208 finistair

Livery painters? Please?

So, Finist’air flies between LFEC Ushant and LFRB Brest Bretagne Airport (file located here), a version 10.51 gem you’ll really want to get onboard. So equipped, you can now make the 26 mile hop to and from Ushant to your heart’s content…as we did in the Caravan as well as the Kodiak.

LFCE

The large control tower facility out on the bluff overlooking the sea is a radar station for monitoring maritime traffic entering and exiting the English Channel. There is a complex traffic separation scheme in-place out there, and ship traffic in the channel is as tightly controlled as commercial airport traffic. Oh, the weather out on the island is frequently quite rough, in case you were wondering (you can stop grinning now). The Carenado C208 is a good choice for this flight, too.

Get tdg’s latest here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/profile/348816-tdg/content/&type=downloads_file

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Our favorite freeware LEMD Madrid came in for some touch-up work this week, and you’ll want to get this one onboard, too.

LEMD rev

Get it here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/38391-lemd-adolfo-suárez-madrid-barajas/

Stay tuned…more coming soon. Happy trails –

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