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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