So, Thursday my auto-update dialogue box appeared and let me know it was time to update. Uh, yeah…okay. I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to pull the trigger (as Goran at Leading Edge posted that there are major auto-pilot issues in his Saab340 when used in the new version) but, well, curiosity got me and I did it. Too many new features to just sit back and wait, I guess.
Any time Laminar releases a new version of XP we usually head over to SeaTac and check out the sights. Why? Well, when changes to Lego-brick construction items occur, they often show up here and are relatively easy to spot. If you like to dig around in WED and make your own airports, this is kind of a big deal. That said, after poking around in some dark corners, mainly around the cargo ramps north of the main terminal, things look a little different.
So, off to Seattle and for any number of reasons this airport is beginning to look more and more like a payware file. There’s activity all over the ramps and the terminal building looks (more and more) like the one on the ground in Washington. Oh, that TWA/American heritage paint is easy on the eyes, and brings back a lot of memories, too. American has released a whole bunch of them, as you can see in this article from USA Today.
With HDR rendering on, the terminals look decent enough, though many of the terminal building interiors look dark to me.
Anyway, I don’t see much need for a payware version of this airport, as Laminar’s file just seems to get better ‘n better. That was enough for me and I opened up the default C172 – now with the option of a working Garmin G1000 panel – ‘out of the box’ – and this is an impressive addition, for many reasons.
So, yeah, I opened the Cessna at London City and took-off for Heathrow – flying along the Thames to scope out a few of the newest additions to XPs London City file. If you missed the additions to Las Vegas that came out in 11.05…well…go check them out, then pop on over to London and look around, because there are a few fun things to check out.
Such as a nicely detailed Tower Bridge…with X-PLANE signage on nearby buildings…
…and a very nice London Eye, too…
as well as Parliament, Big Ben, and the Swiss ‘Re’ Gherkin. What’s missing? St Paul’s and Westminster, so let’s just call this an agnostics-eye view of London and be done with it.
So, back to the Laminar G1000. First thing, it’s scalable.
You can click on it and bring up on screen…
…and you can, in fact, click top left and get to standard expand/contract buttons – and fill your screen with the G1000…which will be perfect for entering waypoints and airports.
First impressions? Data entry is easier on this unit than the one found on Carenado/Thranda panels – as the manipulator regions seem better defined. I’ve been having a lot of trouble getting Carenado’s manipulators to work properly, and not just on their G1000, though data entry with the unit on the TBM850 seems a little smoother than with other Carenado efforts.
And that HUGE center panel is almost overwhelming. So much information…and it’s scalable, too.
At any rate, with the current sale on Carenado files, the TBM is downright inexpensive right now, and for about another week. I’m using their v.10 file, BTW, in XP11 with no operational issues.
It’s a typical Carenado file, meaning it’s detailed and well-executed. I used it and the G1000 to fly from KTTF Custer to KSMP and found it a very agreeable experience. At almost 300 knots and FL280, it’s not much slower than an RJ. Autopilot OPS was a highlight; no trouble and easy to use without reading the manual.
Below, departing KTTF Custer and passing Detroit, and what will be the eastern anchor to the midwest regional training area we’ve been discussing.
We’ll keep fiddling with the new Laminar G1000 and let you know what we find, but first impressions are okay. I just don’t know yet how deep it goes.
Below, a few additional screenshots from EFVA, the airport in northern Finland we covered in our last post, this time using the ERJ-175. This was the first time in that .acf for me, but it seemed super easy to program and operate. We took it down to Helsinki, then on to Riga, and basic operation was pretty good, but we noted some hunting from the A/P when changing either heading or altitude, and one time it lost control and I had to intervene.
The panel is about the same as SSGs, that is to say, flat – or somewhat lacking depth – but maybe this one is a little better in that regard. When I look at the IXEGs panel, or the Rotate MD80s, there’s just a different feel…almost like you’re not in a Sim on your desktop. So, the panels on these ERJs just don’t have the same immersive realism. I don’t know whether it’s because the flat panels are tough to give “depth” to – or what – and this is a very subjective impression, too. I’ll work on different rendering settings and see what I find, but first impression…this panel looks better to me in daylight, and I found myself zooming in all the time to do even the simplest things, even with the pop-ups.
The night panel is bright enough, but text on the displays is really very small – so they’re difficult to scan. Setting the altitude and vert. speed on the glare shield, then having to read your settings on the primary flight display just doesn’t work out real well for me…and as my reading glasses correct to 20:10 I’m pretty sure it’s not my eyes…so it’s zoom in, zoom out…scan and zoom in again. I’d assume these displays are modeled on the ones in the real aircraft, so I have no idea what the best solution is. Using the pop-ups help, but it’s also cumbersome, especially on approach.
EFVA looks great in HDR, and I think this airport will be a good addition to use when working in the Baltic region; I’m also looking forward to using this ERJ-175 more, too. Generally speaking, I’m not real fond of glass cockpits but this one packs a lot of information in an accessible format…it’s just difficult to read. Maybe what I really need is a 40-inch monitor…
As far as ease of use, the E175 is a good file, and I’d feel better about recommending this one if the AP hadn’t gone bonkers on me. As this was my first flight in the file, it’s just too soon to say, but my overall impression is very good.
EFVA is excellent!
Now, let’s do some California Dreamin’…
The US West Coast is the next area/region I want to highlight as a regional training ground, and once again as there are many art assets in place, or about to be released, that will enable instant operations. Let’s start by looking at a few examples of obvious route-pairings that you can use with larger commercial aircraft files:
Start in San Diego if you want, and hop to LAX. Most of the major carriers offer at least one such flight every morning, but all the commuter operators fly this one all day and night long. So, yes, CRJ-200 and the ERJ-170/75 are ideal, but so is the Dash-8 Q400 and even the Saab 340a. Use 737, 757 and even 767 acf for the longer legs. Edelweiss uses the A340 here, so options abound.
But the real beauty of this airport comes from looking at real-world operations. Try San Diego to Salt Lake, then Albueqerque and back to San Diego – all in one sitting – and you’ll be tired after that day! We’re also about to get a new airport in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and you need to think about that one a little. It sounds like an out of the way destination of little use, but not fast there, Quimmosabe. Idaho Falls is the gateway to Yellowstone National Park, and services the Grand Targhee Ski Area. Further, it also acts as a lower cost gateway to the Jackson Hole area, summer and winter. Oakland/SFO are options, but the RJ carriers go to Denver, Salt Lake and, a-ha, Minneapolis, but you could easily go to Portland and Seattle, as well.
Because Salt Lake is a major hub for Delta, and because MrX has a great airport there, another set of options opens up, including direct service to CDG and everything down to the smallest RJ hangouts up in Montana. Delta Connection handles SLC to Bozeman, Missoula and Great Falls, but we don’t have airports there, at least not beyond World Airport’s auto-gen. Still, these are of some interest, too, as these link through SLC to California…so…even more options…
Another airport file is about to release, and that’s KSNA John Wayne, in Irvine, California. This is a mega-important file for California users, or people who want to tackle the US West Coast – like us! SNA is THE airport for Newport Beach, California, one of the most affluent enclaves in the United States, and as a result this is the 4th busiest airport in California, There’s heavy traffic from Wayne to SFO, SJC as well as SMC Sacramento, the state capital, but also heavy winter traffic carrying skiers to Salt Lake and Denver. Both Portland and Seattle are favored destinations, so even more options open up for 737/757 OPS, but the point is a simple one to grasp. You can base yourself out here in X-plane and keep busy for months – AND – rarely do the same route twice. OR – do the airline thing and fly the same route over and over until you get it down, then move on to another hub, but do anchor yourself to one airport for a while – to gain real familiarity. Looking over the maps above you ought to grasp the significance of the options.
Now, let’s take a look at the southern anchor for this region, KSAN San Diego. This is a marvelous airport file from Icarus, available at X-Aviation, and you’ll want to give serious consideration to adding this file if interested in West Coast OPS.
This is an odd airport. Small in overall area but with densely packed terminal areas, and the facility is jammed up against Mission Bay on one side and hillside developments on all other sides. There’s a heavy commercial presence here, with all the majors and their siblings, as well as Southwest; but on top of that BA, Edelweiss and Lufthansa operate out of here, too.
Shelter Island is packed with sailboats and hotels, and so is this scenery file. Excellent work here, too, as it adds an immersive dynamic to the south side of the field. The north side has the main tower, air cargo, as well as maintenance facilities.
Below, the approach that simply needs to built up more. I’ve already covered this so will say no more – other than it NEEDS to be developed further.
San Diego is a NAVY town, and it’s good to see the Nimitz hanging out here.
The terminal buildings are, generally speaking, low and squat affairs, so there’s little visual impact when you arrive.
Yet you’ll find the textures employed are more than adequate. Interestingly, some are much better than others, and one area has a built-up interior.
The night window textures lend a bright blue glow to the ramps, though some windows are simple blue panels.
Yet on the west end of the facility, in the Terminal 2 area, there’s something fun going on.
The glassed-in atrium, seen below, has everything a growing boy needs for a snack, from Burger King to Starbucks, and, from medium distances, everything inside is crystal clear. A truly well-done addition, check it out if you get this one. Most of the international OPS take place here, so larger jets are ramped up nearby.
Again, nearby windows are well executed, though some, like these seen below, don’t show any interior details.
Needless to say, with HDR lighting at MAX this western area looks outstanding.
Even under twilight conditions.
So, in our next post, we’ll take off for LAX. We’ll cover the usual NAV options and look over one LAX airport file, then look at the route options for a flight up to SFO. We’ll use the IXEG 733 for these flights, too.
So, that said, thanks for coming along. We’ll see you next time. – A