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USA $7.95 CANADA $9.95 AUSTRALIA $9.85 (INC. GST) A PC AVIATOR PUBLICATION
THE FLIGHT SIM
ROUND TABLE SIMULATION THE 360° VIEW ON FLIGHT
Imagine.... being able to pick and choose any areas of the world that you want to fly in photo-real detail with Microsoft Flight Simulator X. Imagine.... being able order those parts of the world, here and now, for less than 1 cent per square mile. Imagine.... being able to download that area immediately after purchase, installing it and then flying that scenery within the hour. Imagine.... that technology being available right here and now.... Well, you no longer need to imagine... it is here and now... and it’s MegaSceneryEarth! Go To The MegaSceneryEarth Website Right Now To Start Choosing Your Favorite Places To Fly In HyperReal Detail!
© 2009 PC Aviator Inc. Aerosoft Australia Pty Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
Ultimate Airliners Edition: Super 80
T I T L E
Flight One DC-2
Classic Airliner And Next Generation Cockpit Package Bundled Together!
his ‘Ultimate Airliners Edition’ of this popular and critically acclaimed airliner for Flight Simulator X now includes the original ‘Classic’ Super 80 and the later Super 80 Professional releases of Coolsky’s MD-80 airliner. That’s two aircraft and two complete cockpit systems - the original mix of analogue and early 1980s period electronic instrumentation and the latest generation cockpit with full EFIS, FMS, TCAS and other modern systems. You choose which you want to fly... This outstanding simulation has been exclusively designed for FSX to take advantage of the latest technology. Features a unique step-by-step Integrated Cockpit Training system. FSX Title Ultimate Airliners Super 80 Media DVD US Price Aust. Price USD$69.95 AUD$86.95
ow you can travel back the age of elegance and style and take the controls of this legendary aircraft. This outstanding simulation has been a labour of love for its creators, who have worked closely with The Aviodrome Museum in Holland who operated one of the only two DC-2s still flying today. Choose to fly with two different cockpit layouts in one of the three external models - PLUS 39 beautiful historic liveries of airlines from around the world. This boxed edition contains printed manual, with everything you need to get yourself airborne with checklists and reference data all included for convenience. Highly detailed flight model, based on actual data and information provided by the Aviodrome DC-2 pilots and team. Two highly detailed 3D virtual cockpit (VC) options are included - the historic 1930s version or fly with modern avionics as fitted in the Aviodrome aircraft. Warning - Incorrect operation will cause failures! Publisher: Flight 1 ITEM CODE F1DC2 Title DC-2 Media CD-ROM US Price FSX/FS2004 Aust. Price USD$39.95 AUD$49.95
Fly Into History With Style!
R W N E
Publisher: Flight 1 ITEM CODE F1S80UAE
FTX Coffs Harbour
The Latest Australian Airport from Orbx
The Classic Huey In Amazing Detail!
offs Harbour is a beautiful coastal city on the northern NSW coast, with a major regional airport nestled beside the beach, and the picturesque township, harbour and marina surrounded by beautiful ranges and rural pastures. The Orbx rendition of YSCH has been made using 22cm/pixel aerial photos taken in 2008 and licensed from Coffs Harbour City Council to produce a regional airport with superb ground clarity. Additionally, lead developer John Ross has paid many visits to the airport to take photos of all the buildings, terminals and hangars within the airport precinct. The result is truly a stunning airport which is as real as being there! Product Features: Ground imagery at 30cm/pixel resolution; Buildings textured from hundreds of actual onsite photos; The entire airport precinct is modelled in high detail; GA area hangars and Aero Club modelled in high detail and superb resolution; Includes over 50 sq km of photoreal area surrounding the airport; Exquisite modelling of the nearby marina. FSX Media DVD US Price USD$Call Aust. Price AUD$24.95
ifty years after it first flew it is still in production and that’s something no other helicopter can claim. The characteristic sound of the two-bladed rotor can be heard over jungles and city centers. Even though it has only one engine it is very reliable and rugged. A workhorse that’s not afraid to get dirty and will fly just as happy with a few pounds more than the manual states it can carry. It’s loved by the pilots and the crew that maintain the old airframes. It’s the Huey. The Bell UH-1 is without a doubt one of the best known helicopters to most people. It was imprinted in our culture by the moving images from the Vietnam War were it changed the face of warfare. And it never left as thousands are still flying in every corner of the world. This Huey model is certainly the best model currently available for Flight Simulator X. The panel is very functional and the helicopter is accurately shaped with high quality textures. If you are a helicopter or Huey fan, this product is certainly well worth considering. Publisher: Aerosoft Germany ITEM CODE ASHUX Title Huey X Media DVD US Price Aust. Price USD$35.99 AUD$44.95 FSX
Publisher: Orbx Simulation Systems ITEM CODE FTXYSCH Title Coffs Harbour
Publisher: Flight 1 ITEM CODE F1BN2 Title BN-2 Islander Media CD-ROM US Price Aust. Price USD$39.95 AUD$54.95
Publisher: Aerosoft Germany ITEM CODE ASPA2834 Title Carenado PA-34 & PA-28 Media DVD US Price Aust. Price USD$34.95 AUD$46.95
Wildcat: Legends of Flight
With FSFlyingSchool 2011, You Will Never Have To Fly Alone Again!
FS Global Ultimate
The Americas In Stunning Terrain Detail!
lear the decks! The US Navy’s most famous fighter is about to be launched into the simulated skies!
This simulation is actually about four different aircraft - the Grumman F4F-3 and F4F-4 Wildcats and also the Martlets, the British name given to the F4F-3 and F4F-4-based aircraft which were supplied to Britain from the earliest days of WWII. All four aircraft are represented in this simulation and although essentially similar, each displays a set of unique characteristics. These simulations are extremely accurate representations, with models, textures and virtual cockpit functions all carefully researched and replicated and flight models specially programmed using factory specifications and flight test reports. Publisher: Just Flight ITEM CODE JFWILDCAT Title Wildcat: Legends of Flight Media DVD US Price Aust. Price USD$39.99 AUD$53.95 FSX
ast year FS Global 2010 went to the forefront of Flight Simulation terrain mesh technology using resolutions of up to 9m (LOD12). This year FS Global ULTIMATE goes beyond that! Developed by PILOT’S it gives you terrain mesh resolutions of up to 2m (LOD14), which delivers breathtaking realistic looking scenery in Microsoft Flight Simulator. Part one comes on 6 Dual Layer DVDs and gives you terrain scenery for North – and South America plus border areas. In spring 2011 the saga continues with sceneries of Europe and Africa as well as Asia and Oceania, which again will provide the leading terrain mesh product for Flight Simulator X and FS2004. During development special attention was paid to the reasonable use of resolution as well as the removal of data errors. Terrain mesh products provide the data which FS uses to "construct" the complexity of mountains, hills, valleys and canyons. 2m data means there are just 2m between every elevation data point. The closer they are together, the better the mesh resolution, and the more realistic the view! ITEM CODE FSGU Title Media US Price FSX/FS2004 Aust. Price
Publisher: Pilots GmbH FS Global Ultimate: Americas DVD
eveloped over two years with the help of real-world Islander pilots and operators, this exciting simulated version is a full-featured FSX release, including technologies such as cockpit self-shadowing, HDR bloom effects, and bump mapping and DX10 compatible external and internal visuals. Whether you want to operate simulated inter-island transport, feeder airliner flights or just simply have fun in this all-purpose aircraft, the Islander is certain to put a smile on your face. Short field performance - Big on features This BN-2 Islander simulation is extensively based a real world example with assistance from Great Barrier X-Press Airlines, Auckland, New Zealand - fitted with 2x Lycoming O-540 260hp engines. We've included two exterior model variants for both early and late nose profile (BN-2A and BN-2B) Islanders, with related lighting accessories all beautifully represented with a total of 13 paint-schemes.
ly the most produced aircraft of the Piper company, the PA28RT 201 Arrow IV and PA34 200T SENECA II. The cockpits are accurate and fully equipped with the performance being as realistic as possible. Originally rebuilt aircraft models with an unbelievable visual quality, a true highlight for every light aircraft pilot. The Carenado line of aircraft for FSX has been well acclaimed by users and reviewers for many years and for good reason. They are well constructed, look exceptionally good and have impeccable behavior in flight. Features: External dynamic shadows, internal dynamic shadows on VC, volumetric normal mapping, specular mapping and bloom lights; Polygon optimized model; Friendly FPS; IFR certification; Two models: two and three blade propeller; Three different paints plus a blank texture; Maximum details and realistic textures; Interactive virtual cockpit.
Highly Recommended by PC Aviator and Computer Pilot Magazine Staff!
One Of 2010's Best Aircraft Add-ons!
PA-34 & PA-28
Two Top-Line Piper Aircraft Models
PMDG 737-600/700 800/900 Series
The Famous PMDG 737 Models For FS9
erosoft are re-releasing the top-selling PMDG 737 series addons for Flight SImulator 2004 in one boxed edition! Four versions of the famous 737 in one package! Enjoy the PMDG 737 airplanes for the Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004. You can choose -between the versions 600, 700, 800 and 900. The PMDG 737 is a highly realistic reproduction of Boeing’s New Generation Glass Cockpit Aircraft series. Features: Q Accurate scaled and shape Boeing 737 version 600, 700, 800 and 900 with Gmax exterior models. Q Complete TCAS2 System included with the versions 800 and 900 Q 4 different main panel perspectives with complete FMC and EFIS controls. Publisher: Aerosoft Germany ITEM CODE ASPMDG737 Title Media US Price PMDG 737-600/700/800/900 DVD FSX/FS2004 Aust. Price
The Best 757 Package For FS9/FSX!
t is hugely popular with operators, crews and passengers and now a professional quality re-creation of this great airliner can be flown in Flight Simulator X or 2004. This spectacular 757 expansion has been developed by the experts at Captain Sim and is a technical masterpiece. It comes in -200, -300 and freighter variants with an impressive selection of different airline liveries and different engine variants. If you want the finest 757 for your simulated fleet then look no further - this is the Captain's choice! 757 Captain features literally hundreds of animations including control surfaces, wheels, engines and doors plus unique interior features such as internal doors, windows and even TV screens with animated pictures! Choose the -200, -300 or Freighter variants with Rolls Royce or P&W engines and a wide selection of different liveries. High quality flight models and avionics include a custom designed Flight Management System, weather radar and much more. Features the Captain Sim trademark Aircraft Configuration Editor that lets you set up the 757 exactly as you want. FSX/FS2004 Media DVD US Price Aust. Price USD$39.95 AUD$54.95
Publisher: Just Flight ITEM CODE 757CAPT Title 757 Captain
Hong Kong City & Kai Tak Airport
Fly The Legendary Kai Tak IGS-13 Over-City Runway Approach!
iscover one of the most challenging approaches in aviation history! This multiple awarded scenery of the Kai-Tak airport and the city of Hong Kong has been recreated by the famous FlyTampa developmet team and brings back the REAL Kait-Tak airport in stunning details for FSX and FS2004. Q Hong Kong city scenery consisting of mesh, landclass, photoground and Thousands of custom buildings. Q Kai-Tak International (VHHX, closed 1998) airport scenery. Q Highly detailed curved Checkerboard approach. Q 2 Heliports (Peninsula Hotel rooftop, Shun-Tak Ferry heliport). Q Animated AI-Ships including Hong Kong's Starferry, junkers, barges etc. Q Custom animated car traffic & FSX-traffic throughout the city. Publisher: Aerosoft Germany ITEM CODE ASKAITAK Title Hong Kong City & Kai Tak Media DVD US Price FSX/FS2004 Aust. Price
Digital IFR Approach And Navigation Charts For Any Flight Simulation Program!
imPlates X is a collection of IFR approach (and other) charts and a worldwide airport/facility directory aimed at the serious flight simulation enthusiast. This latest edition (SimPlates 2000 and 2004 came before) features over 30,000 REAL WORLD IFR PLATES - far more plates and at a higher quality than ever before. Over 30,000 real-world IFR plates, including approach plates, SIDs/ STARs, Airport Diagrams, and more. Approach types include ILS, VOR, VOR/DME, NDB, LLZ, SDF, GPS, TACAN, Helicopter, Visual, and more. Superb coverage: includes virtually every IFR plate for the USA and plates for hundreds of countries worldwide. Complete, integrated worldwide airport/ facilities directory. Features useful information on the vast majority of the world's airports. For the USA, a complete list of preferred routing tables is included, so you can plan your virtual flights just like the pros do! ITEM CODE SIMPLX Title Simplates X Media DVD US Price MANY SIMS Aust. Price
Publisher: Dauntless Aviation
Flight Simulator X Gold
Is It Time To Make The Switch?
omputer hardware seems to have finally caught up with Flight Simulator X. Is it time to make the switch? We think so! Flight Simulator X Gold Edition with FSX Acceleration Expansion provides the best all-around flight simulation yet! Microsoft Flight Simulator X offers virtual pilots a global flying environment with over 24 aircraft to fly right from the default hangar, and thousands of add-on products to further expand the simulator. Need to fly somewhere? Nearly every public airport in the world is modelled and available in FSX, and you can fly to them in an environment which is capable of delivering real world weather patterns downloaded directly and constantly updated from the internet! Fly exciting missions that bring fun back to flight, or fly over the high resolution terrain of the Himalyas or American Rockies. The FSX Acceleration add-on offers Red Bull-style air racing, navy carrier operations, and improved simulator performance with its integrated FSX improvements. Make the switch today! ITEM CODE FSXGOLD Title Flight Simulator X Gold Ed. Media DVD US Price Standalone Aust. Price
Real Environment Xtreme: Version 2
The New Standard In FSX Enhancements!
first of its kind product! A complete photo-realistic, hi-definition professional graphics package for Microsoft's Flight Simulator X created entirely from state-of-the-art photography. The texture sets within Real Environment Xtreme™ coupled with the powerful NEW Weather Engine and Flight Planner provides for an exhilarating and realistic experience. Real Environment Xtreme, code named REX, has taken almost two years of research & development to reach the level of detail that exists today. REX is a technologically & artistically advanced, hi-definition texture utility for the simulator pilot who requires a more advanced feature set. Source material was laser drumscanned and the proprietary artwork and textures are maintained in hi-def for format amazing detail and clarity. FSX Media DVD US Price Aust. Price USD$49.95 AUD$59.50
Publisher: Real Environment Simulations Inc. ITEM CODE REX Title Real Environment Xtreme 2
FTX Pacific Northwest
Begin Or Continue Your FTX Experience!
FTX Australia SP4 DVD
TX Australia SP4 DVD scenery package for Australia is fast becoming our number one selling add-on of all time for Flight Simulator X. It's the must-have expansion for Aussies! FTX is the Full Terrain Experience, and is the culmination of over five years of research and development by local Melbourne company, Orbx Simulation Systems. FTX will completely transform how the entire country of Australia looks like in Flight Simulator X, and only occupies 12GB of hard drive space and performs equal and in some cases better than default FSX. Experience the beautiful lush landscapes of Tasmania and the Eastern seaboard of Australia. In stark contrast, the red centre of Australia is displayed in earthy red and orange tones with FTX Australia SP4 DVD. Custom tree and house textures add the final touch to the custom landclass mapping so you can finally get rid of that repeating texture tile view out the window of your default FSX Australian scenery! FSX Publisher: Orbx Simulation Systems ITEM CODE FTXAUSSP4 Title FTX Australia SP4 DVD Media DVD US Price Aust. Price USD$99.95 AUD$97.95 FSX Aust. Price
ver twelve months in the making, the FTX Pacific Northwest region is truly a stunning achievement which combines all the elements of the much celebrated FTX AU region series, but goes much further. To PNW we have amped the quality of the ground textures to the next level, and sourced them from pristine imagery to create beautifully crisp terrain even at ground level. Going further, we've added photoreal areas above the tree line to many mountains, glaciers, lava flows, as well as including photoreal Seattle CBD, the ports of Tacoma and Olympia, KPAE, Bonneville Dam and many other POI's. Additionally we have created brand new autogen textures, hand-crafted every square mile of landclass, included full moving traffic, 3D night lighting and much more! The icing on the cake? Over 400 airports in the region have been upgraded with custom buildings and objects, elevation corrections and other details. Highly recommended!
Now With Service Pack 4 Integrated!
Publisher: Orbx Simulation Systems ITEM CODE FTXNAPNW Title FTX Pacific Northwest Media DVD US Price USD$44.95 AUD$42.95
Saitek ProFlight Yoke System
R he Saitek Pro Flight Yoke System is highly engineered to meet the exacting needs of the true flight simulation enthusiast. Stainless steel shaft, ergonomic controls, integrated chronograph and separate throttle quadrant ensure a smooth, accurate and totally realistic flying experience. Yoke Features: Durable Stainless Steel shaft with precision bearings gives smooth and predictable elevator and aileron control; Used with the supplied SST Programming software, integrated mode switch trebles the number of controls you have at your fingertips; Accurately time each leg of your flight plan with the integrated chronograph; Use the integrated USB Hub to easily connect other parts of the Saitek Pro Flight range of products, such as additional Pro Flight Throttle Quadrant or Pro Flight Instrument Panel (both sold separately) Q 14 buttons Q POV Hat Switch Q 3-position Mode Switch Q Elevator and Aileron Axes on Yoke. Check our website product page for full yoke feature list! Throttle Quadrant Features: 3 axis levers add more options for control in your favourite flight simulation; 3 two-way rocker switches add further controls to your simulation setup; Quadrant can be mounted either on top or in front of your desk, pilot or co-pilot side so that the controls are always where you want them. Q 3 axis levers Q 6 buttons. For enhanced realism, PC Aviator recommends adding a set of quality rudder pedals to your Saitek ProFlight Yoke System. Both the Saitek and CH Products Rudder Pedals will work fine with this setup. Manufacturer: Saitek Industries ITEM CODE STKPFYKUSB Title Port US Price Aust. Price Saitek ProFlight Yoke System USB USD$149.95 AUD$269.95 O L L E
Yoke And Throttles In One Box!
Saitek Combat Rudder Pedals
nspired by pedal designs found in modern fighter aircraft such as the F16 or F35, the Rudder Pedals are constructed from a highly robust Di-cast alloy, providing durability and authenticity for the most demanding of aspiring pilots. Independent left and right brake axis allows for greater accuracy and precision when performing braking maneuvers. Self-centering rudder axis works in conjunction with a user configurable dampening adjuster, allowing users to define levels of pressure required to operate rudder controls. The new Saitek ProFlight Combat Rudder Pedals offer the following features: Q Independent left and right brake axis. Q Rudder axis which is self-centering and features adjustable dampening. Q Adjustable foot pedal angle to suit all styles of flying. Q High quality, part metal construction for durability and extended life. Q USB connection and compatible with Windows 7, Vista and XP (all versions). Saitek’s powerful Saitek Smart Technology (SST) programming software allows gamers to configure their controls to suit their preferred gaming style, and to save the configurations as personal profiles. Note: Saitek Combat Rudder Pedals can be matched with any USB joystick/yoke from any manufacturer! Manufacturer: Saitek Industries ITEM CODE STKCOMRUD Title Port US Price Aust. Price Saitek Combat Rudder Pedals USB USD$199.95 AUD$189.95
New Combat-Tough Pedals
D W A
Incredible Real Time Head Tracking Controls Your Sim Viewpoint!
TrackIR 5 Professional
yper accurate, fully adjustable, and only three square inches in size - TrackIR 5 is the one piece of kit that discriminating gamers crave. TrackIR Changes Everything! Take advantage of our 6 DOF head tracking technology, which links your actual movement in three-dimensional space to your in-game view! Your increased situational awareness will make you the most feared competitor around. In dogfights, you'll be impossible to shake. In white-knuckle races, you'll be impossible to pass. In tactical combat, you'll be impossible to flank. Discover the TrackIR advantage. Put Your Head in the Game! Package Includes: Q TrackIR 5 (with USB cable). Q TrackClip (reflective tracking clip - not pro). Q TrackIR Software (download). Q TrackIR Users Manual (view). Q Quick Start Guide (view PDF). Q Clamshell retail package.
VRinsight Flight Master Yoke
High-End Metal Flight Yoke For Simulation
he Flight Master Yoke by VRinsight is the very first product of the Flight Master series. It enhances your flying experience making it more comfortable, accurate and smooth. Solid Metal Construction High-end stainless steel shaft, solid cast aluminum, powder coated yoke and pitch/trim wheel gives pilots a realworld feeling. Eight mounting holes for most VRinsight products help you to build your own flying system (as shown with the Multi Switch Panel).
FEATURES: Q Accurate yoke movement control Q Pitch Trim wheel Green/Red LED indicator Q Window XP, Vista, Windows 7 compatible Q Standard gaming device with USB 2.0 connection Q Fully compatible with all simulators and games Q Full metal case & Solid cast aluminum powder coated yoke Q Eight mounting holes to place more VRinsight modules Q Size: 15.9 inch (L) x 26 inch (W) x 6.5 inch (H). Manufacturer: VRinsight
Manufacturer: NaturalPoint ITEM CODE TRKIR5PRO Title TrackIR 5 Head Tracker Port USB US Price Aust. Price USD$149.95 AUD$224.95
ITEM CODE VRFMY
VRinsight Flight Master Yoke USB
Wings of Prey
Incredible, Immersive WWII Air Combat
Rise of Flight: Iron Cross Edition
Chock Full Of New Features!
he award-winning WWI flight-sim Rise Of Flight is back and it's bigger and better than ever with Rise of Flight: Iron Cross Edition! Rise Of Flight: Iron Cross Edition comes chock full of new features, exclusive content and numerous game play improvements. Rise Of Flight: Iron Cross Edition brings intense WWI aerial combat to your computer like never before with enhanced graphics, new modes of gameplay, new campaigns, new terrain, new special effects and twice the flyable planes! It has never been a better time to pick up the most realistic WWI flight sim ever created and take to the virtual skies! Do you have what it takes to be an ace? You can fly eight legendary WWI fighter places alongside or against over a dozen other beautifully rendered aircraft including scouts, fighter, bombers and recon planes. Fly the Spad XIII, Fokker D.VII, Albatross D.Va, Nieuport 28, SE.5a, Pfalz D.IIIa, Sopwith Camel and deadly Fokker Dr.1 into aerial combat over the western front. ITEM CODE ROFIC Title Rise of Flight: Iron Cross Ed. Media DVD US Price Standalone Aust. Price D A T I O N FSX Media DVD US Price Aust. Price USD$59.95 AUD$79.95 O U R R E C O M M E N S
ings of Prey is based around the large-scale aerial combat and ground military operations of World War II. Players can participate in some of the war’s most famous battles piloting fighters, battle planes and bombers across a range of thrilling missions. There are six theatres of war to engage in – The Battle of Britain, Stalingrad, Ardennes, Berlin, Sicily and Korsun' representing the main airborne battles of World War II in Europe. “Wings of Prey” also boasts an all new damage effects engine as well as advanced environmental visuals enriching the game play. “Wings of Prey” features hundreds of airplanes taking part in air battles. The unique environmental engine also produces highly detailed, realistic landscapes that allow players to see breathtaking ground support actions. Authentic World War atmosphere: Cutting edge technologies with highly detailed visuals bring the epic battles to life. Tested and rated highly by the staff at PC Aviator! ITEM CODE WOPREY Title Wings of Prey Media DVD US Price Standalone Aust. Price
Publisher: 777 Studios
Publisher: 777 Studios
he GF-MCP Pro features a Boeing 737-style panel with full control complement. The GF-MCP Pro enables full simulation of a Boeing 737 MCP . The GF-MCP Pro is also compatible with built-in FS2004 & FSX aircraft and most freeware or commercially available add-on aircraft. Measures 16.25” wide x 2.7” high. The GF-MCP Pro connects to a USB port on your computer. Includes all software for compatibility with Microsoft Flight Simulator X/2004 and Project Magenta. Q Independent Captain and F/O COURSE knob and display Q Independent Captain and F/O Flight Director on/off toggles with indicator Q Autothrottle on/off toggle with indicator Q Autothrottle N1 and SPEED buttons Q C/O button for SPD display selection of IAS or MACH Q SPEED Knob and display Q HEADING knob and display with integrated HDG HOLD push function Q HDG SEL button Q VNAV and LNAV buttons Q ALTITUDE knob and display Q VOR LOC, APP, ALT HOLD and ALT INTV buttons Q VERTICAL SPEED wheel control and display Q V/S button Q A/P CMD A, CWS A, CMD B, and CWS B buttons Q DISENGAGE control bar. The MCP Pro is designed to closely resemble the look and function of the Boeing 737NG aircraft’s MCP (Mode Control Panel) in color, control layout, and dimensions. The “real-world” 737NG MCP is a complex piece of equipment with many displays, knobs, and switches. Its purpose is to give the pilot control of all the various modes of autoflight that are managed by the aircraft’s multiple on-board autopilots and autothrottle systems. Manufacturer: GoFlight Inc. ITEM CODE GF-MCPPRO Title GoFlight MCP Pro Port USB US Price Aust. Price USD$499.95 AUD$649.95
Take Control Of Your Airliner Avionics With GoFlight Modules!
PMDG 747-400 X
Time-Tested Jumbo Add-on For FSX
his add-on package is widely regarded as the best jumbo add-on currently available, and is the ultimate challenge in captaining a classic heavy jet airplane! When FSX pilots look for a detailed Juimbo Jet add-on for their sim, a large percentage of them end up buying the PMDG model. But be warned, this isn't an easy aircraft to fly all by yourself! Only hardened jet pilots should attempt to master this massive aircraft in Flight SImulator alone! Q Complete Avionics - Sharp vector graphic cockpit displays matching their real world counterparts, all EICAS functions and lower displays working interactively with the aircraft's systems, and also displaying three engine variants (RR, GE, PW) Q Aircraft / Cockpit Systems Functionality at the highest accuracy, programmed after engineering schematics to ensure everything behaves like on the real plane; 747400F specific pneumatics systems are correctly modeled and the stabilizer tanks have been removed.
Publisher: Aerosoft Germany ITEM CODE Title PMDG747FSX PMDG 747-400 X
The PC Aviator Instant Download Store!
D S f you like the idea of being able to order your flight sim add-ons online, be able to download them as soon as your order is processed and then be flying within minutes then you should check out the PC Aviator Flight Sim Instant Download Store. How It Works Simply browse the online catalog at either our USA or Australian stores and add which products you wish to purchase to your cart. When ready to checkout, simply enter your credit card information or pay with Paypal and as soon as your charge is approved and your order complete, you'll be e-mailed a download link to download your software. Then you install your software and begin using it in minutes. USA Integrated Download Store - www.pcaviator.com/store Australian Integrated Download Store - www.pcaviator.com.au/store
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SKU Title File Size 540 Mb Publisher US Price A L O DL-APPINNS Approaching Innsbruck Aerosoft Germany USD$29.95
xperience Innsbruck airport, one of the most challenging airports in Europe. Every building is recreated with great attention to detail and realism and is placed on high definition areal images in the great Alpine landscape. Features: Detailed representation of the airports placed on high resolution areal images; Includes scenery on the approach and departure routes; Seasonal and night textures; Dynamic vehicle traffic on the airport; Fully compatible with all AI traffic add-ons.
Carenado C-340 II
arenado's latest masterpiece is the Cessna 340 in HD Series detail for Flight Simulator X! Features HD quality textures (2048 x 2048) - Four different paint schemes plus a blank texture – 3D gauges Customizable panel for controlling windows transparency, 3D Knobs and static elements such as wheel chokes, pitot cover and sights prop - Original HQ digital stereo sounds recorded directly from the real aircraft – Custom Bendix/King Weather Radar and original 2 original GNS 430 and much more! File Size 103 Mb Publisher US Price Carenado USD$34.95
Polish Airports Volume 2
olish Airports vol.2 is a package of highly detailed sceneries of EPSC Szczecin Goleniów, EPLL Łód Lublinek and EPZG Zielona Góra Babimost airports in Poland. Scenery features: Compatible with FS2004 only; Highest level of accuracy in geographic positioning, modelling and texturing; High quality photoreal textures of airport buildings; Lodz city center with a very detailed autogen and some famous landmarks; Conditional animations; Special effects. File Size 460 Mb Publisher US Price Drzewiecki Design USD$32.00
Carenado C-340 II
DL-DDPOL204 Polish Airports Volume 2
Wings of Power 3: Spitfire
he Supermarine Spitfire is one of the truly legendary aircraft, not just of World War II, but of all time. This aircraft features all of the latest advances in "Absolute Realism" flight modeling, including engine management and airspeed gage error. We have introduced a new aspect of realism by incorporating the airspeed indicator error factor into the pilot's airspeed indicator. Here the spitfire gets the A2A Simulations royal treatment! A must-have add-on. File Size 143 Mb Publisher A2A Simulations
raffic X is the latest generation of the hugely popular Traffic series of AI traffic programs from Just Flight, and is the new benchmark for Artificial Intelligence traffic expansions. New aircraft, more traffic - Traffic X employs completely reworked and updated aircraft for FSX with new and more detailed high-quality airline liveries. Traffic X includes 99 individual aircraft models with numerous airline liveries and paint schemes giving more than 1,700 individual aircraft. File Size 532 Mb Publisher US Price Just Flight USD$34.95
Wings of Power 3: Spitfire
FS-design brings a excellent rendition of the famous supersonic helicopter AIRWOLF from the 1980's television hit series! The original series AIRWOLF is an American television series that ran from 1984 to 1987. It was about the sophisticated spy high-tech military helicopter, code named AIRWOLF, and took their team along on various missions. There was a lot of espionage going on and the theme of the Cold War ran throughout the series. This add-on brings it all back to life! File Size 22 Mb Publisher US Price AFS Design USD$24.95
The Ultimate 757 Collection
he Ultimate 757 Collection is the most extensive 757 package ever created for Flight Simulator! There is truly something for everyone. Every 757 ever to come off the line from Boeing has been reproduced for your enjoyment. And with Mid-Level systems programming, we've simplified the simming experience while providing you the look and feel that makes the Boeing 757 such a special airplane to fly. One purchase gets you both Microsoft Flight Simulators 2004 and Flight Simulator X versions of the 757. File Size 198 Mb Publisher US Price Quality Wings USD$44.95
The Ultimate 757 Collection
D A O L N
Beech Baron 58
File Size 176 Mb
File Size 180 Mb
Bonanza V35B V-Tail
nother fine quality light aircraft from the hangar of Carenado, one of PC Aviator's favorite sim aircraft developers! The V35B V-Tail aircraft is compatible with Flight Simulator X and comes with loads of features, including an original GNS 430 navigation system included. Two models are available in the package, with and without tip tanks. Aircraft is very easy on frame rates and features Carenado's usual high quality, and highly functional custom flight deck panel. File Size 63 Mb Publisher US Price Carenado USD$24.95
ly around this interesting township and surroundings nestled in the Caldera of an old Volcano! Because of the stunning setting and the surprising layout it was an obvious choice for a scenery project. It is a great place to fly to in an airliner and then use a helicopter or small aircraft to explore the other side of the island. Covers the whole island with photo textures and 10 meter mesh. Very extensive autogen. Full detailed coverage of Santorini Thira airport. Fully compatible with AI Traffic add-ons. File Size 71 Mb Publisher Vmax US Price USD$29.95
Bonanza V35B V-Tail
Boeing 787 for X-Plane
DeHavilland C-7 Caribou
rom Virtavia comes the C-7 Caribou, a popular military transport aircraft with short-field operational characteristics and FIVE high-detail texture sets; Highly-detailed and authentic virtual cockpit with many animations and mousable controls; Fuselage interior included; Authentic all-xml 2D panel, custom pop-ups for autopilot, radios and electrics; Simulated Caribou soundset; Animated side doors and rear door with ramp; Highly authentic flight model with checklist. File Size 50 Mb Publisher Virtavia US Price USD$22.95
PhotoReal Memphis X
hoto Real Memphis X is a ground texture replacement package that overlays the default terrain with high quality, satellite image textures. This scenery covers the entire city of Memphis, Tennessee, USA, and the surrounding suburban area. Features: 2 cm/ px resolution images; Day, Night, Dusk, and Dawn satellite images; A water mask that displays photo real water (actual FSX water, not just a flat surface picture of water) Autogenfree satellite textures to ensure no impact on frame rates. File Size 196 Mb Publisher US Price Newport Scenery USD$20.00
DeHavilland C-7 Caribou
PhotoReal Memphis X
C208B Grand Caravan HD
orget the default FSX Caravan model, this is the one you will WANT to have in your virtual hangar! Hi Definition quality textures (2048 x 2048) - Five different paint schemes plus a blank texture. Customizable panel for controlling seat configuration, windows transparency, 3D Knobs, Cargo Pod, Doors opening. Original HQ digital stereo sounds. Custom Bendix/King Weather Radar and original GNS 430 - Pop up C208B Grand Caravan manual with normal and emergency checklist - Tested by real pilots. File Size 99 Mb Publisher US Price Carenado USD$34.95
Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey
he V-22 Osprey is a joint-service, medium-lift, multi-mission tiltrotor aircraft developed by Boeing and Bell Helicopters. Although several Osprey models are available already for FSX, this Virtavia model is considered one of the better ones, and certainly the best downloadoption model for the price-tag. This is a full native FSX model which has been made backwards compatible with FS2004 as well for versatility. Highlights are the switchable mulit-function displays and the working moving map, as well of course as the simulation and physics of the tilting rotors/props the Osprey is most easily recognized for. Grab this if you are after a unique experience. File Size 40 Mb Publisher Virtavia
C208B Grand Caravan
Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey
DL-JFDC3EXP DC-3 Expansion Pack
Aerosoft Germany USD$26.95
his Expansion Pack features additional aircraft for Just Flight’s DC-3 Legends of Flight addon - seven classic DC-3 airliner liveries, three C-47 aircraft, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Dakota 'Pegasus' and the 'Spooky' AC-47 Gunship. This Expansion Pack also gives you the ability to tow the Waco glider! Many Just Flight boxed products are now available as downloads from both USA and Australian PC Aviator Instant Download Stores. Check out our range today!
ndras Field is a unique airport scenery project that is growing and changing all the time! There is a lot to explore at Andras Field and the near surroundings, even after you used it for a long time you will still find new animations and new objects (also because the project will be updated very regular). And yes, Andras Field is a fictive airport. We wanted to create a new idea with new features and there just is no existing airfield that could bring what we needed.
From the EDITOR
WELCOME TO THE MAY/JUNE ISSUE! This issue I have had the opportunity to write several large articles and reviews, something I haven’t done in quite a while. It occurred to me while writing these pieces that each one was slowly growing in size as I explored each topic or product under review. What initially was supposed to be a 2000 word piece ended up being almost twice that size, and the other articles also ended up being at least fifty percent larger than anticipated. I though perhaps I had waffled on a little too much about irrelevant information for each piece but after going back through the drafts I couldn’t find anything that I deemed to be irrelevant in the scope of the article. This begs the question… Should the magazine have fewer articles of longer length, where the topic of that article is explained or written about in more depth with the result being the reader is more informed about a product or a particular flight sim topic, or should we have less-detailed articles, but cover a wider variety of topics? The right answer may be a balance between those two concepts, but personally I do prefer to deliver as much information as practically possible. Just scratching the surface of a topic without going into any detail seems like a waste of an opportunity, however, issue space can sometimes be at a premium and as they say, “variety is the spice of life”. I would like to know what you think on this subject. More detail and less variety, or more variety but perhaps with a little less detail? Shoot me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org We have quite a lot of product reviews in this issue, but there is also a great flight lesson from Mike Ray on Landings, another FAQ article that answers many common flight sim questions, an interesting article by Doug Horton on the PilotEdge ATC Network, and our new Flight Sim Round Table column seeks the opinion of Computer Pilot Magazine’s expert contributors on a variety of current and hot sim topics. So what are you waiting for?
[This was NOT sent by my iPhone/Blackberry or other techno device]
Publisher: Robert Ferraro Editor: Dean Bielanowski Editorial Assistant: Roger Curtiss Layout & Design: Tony Liatos - Rectiﬁer Graphics Contributors In This Issue: Dean Bielanowski, Roger Curtiss, Harold Zimmer, Dr John Lattanzio, Doug Horton, Gene Davis. Mike Ray. Subscription Managers: Australia: Dean Bielanowski USA: Mark Jakubowski
Dean Bielanowski Editor
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General E-Mail: email@example.com US Distribution: Ingram Periodicals, International Periodical Distributors, Media Solutions Printed By: The RL Bryan Company (USA). Disclaimer: Any information, advice, maps, charts, tables and other information published in this magazine is exclusively for use with PC ﬂight simulations. The publisher does not accept any liability for any accident or incident arising from any information conveyed or implied in this publication. Copyright: © Copyright 2011 The PC Aviator Pty Ltd Incorporating PC Aviator Inc. All rights reserved. None of the information in this magazine may be reproduced in any form or stored via any electronic means without the express permission of the publisher. Cover Price: USA: $7.95. Australia: $9.85*. Canada: $9.95. Subscriptions: Computer Pilot is published bi-monthly • Australian Annual Subscriptions: AUD$39.95 Phone: (07) 3149 3096 • US Annual Subscriptions: USD$24.95 Phone: 1-800-664-0033 • Other International Subscriptions Asia/Paciﬁc Region: Ph: +61-7-3149-3096 Rest Of The World: Ph: +1-843-716-1616 or visit www.computerpilot.com ISSN: 1324-7336 Published by: PC Aviator – The Flight Simulation Company Australian Office: The PC Aviator Pty Ltd PO Box 109 Rochedale South, QLD, 4123 Ph: 07 3149 3096 U.S. Office: PC Aviator Inc 1485 Colts Neck Road, LORIS, SC 29569-6775 Ph: 843-716-1616 Fax: 1-843-716-1619 * Recommended Retail Price only Computer Pilot is an international magazine, proudly published in Australia. Printed in the United States of America.
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CONCO N TOENNTESNTS C NTE T TS
ALL THE LATEST NEWS AND NEW
NEWS AND NEW RELEASES
RELEASES SINCE OUR LAST ISSU E.
25 AEROSOFT’S APPROACHING INNSBRUCK 52 ORBX FTX ORCAS ISLAND
32 36 42 54
GOFLIGHT’S TPM AND SECM MOD ULES A2A’S WINGS OF POWER 3: SPITF IRE CARENADO’S CESSNA 340 SAITEK’S PROFLIGHT MODULES
20 THE FLIGHT SIM ROUN D TABLE WELCOME TO THE
26 PILOTEDGE AIR TRAFFI PREVIEW/TUTORIAL C CONTROL NETWORK
FLIGHT SIMULATO SIM EXPERTS TO GIVE THEIR EXPE R ROUND TABLE! HERE WE GATHER OUR FLIGHT RT OR PERSONAL OPINION ON THE FLIGHT SIM NEWS ITEMS, PROD UCT ANNOUNCEMENTS, AND ANSW LATEST HOT TOPICS, QUESTIONS THAT ARE JUST BEGG ERS TO THOSE SIM ING TO BE ASKED!
61 AIRWAYSIM OVERVIE W/REVIEW
PILOT EDGE IS A NEW COMMER CIAL ONLINE AIR TRAFFIC CON TROL SERVICE FOR BOTH FS9/ FSX AND X-PLANE THAT WILL PROV IDE THE SERVICES OF WELL-TRA INED CONTROLLERS AT SCHEDULED TIMES IN DESIGNA TED LOCATIONS. IT DIFFERS FROM VATSIM AND IVAO BY THE FACT THAT CONTROLLERS ARE PAID, AND USERS WILL PAY SOM E TYPE OF SERVICE IS FULLY DEVELOPED AND BECOMES OPERATIONAL. WE PROV FEE AFTER THE TUTORIAL PIECE ON THIS NEW IDE A PREVIEW AND SERVICE.
FOR YEARS, COMPUTER PILOT HAS BEEN DESCRIBING WHAT IT IS LIKE TO PILOT MANY DIFFERENT AIRCRAFT. IN THIS YEAR ’S MARCH/APRIL ISSUE, DEAN BIELANOWSKI REVIEWED FS ECONOMY, WHICH OFFERS THE OPPORTUNITY TO FLY GEN ERAL AVIATION AIRCRAFT TO GENERATE INCOME, COMBININ G PILOTING AND BUSINESS SKILL S IN ORDER TO KEEP FROM CRASHING BOTH LITERALLY AND FINANCIALLY. THAT SEGUES AS A LOGICAL EVOLUTION TO AIRWAYSIM, WHERE ONE LEAV ES THE COCKPIT ENTIRELY AND CONCENTRATES SOLELY ON RUNNING AN AIRLINE.
66 FAQS – FREQUENTLY AS ON FLIGHT SIMULATIONKED QUESTIONS
72 FS ECONOMY – TOOL S, TIPS AND TRICKS LAST ISSUE WE REVIEWED FSEC ONO
THIS ISSUE WE WILL ANSWER SOM E QUESTIONS ON WINDOWS 7 AND FLIGHT SIMS IN PARTICULAR AS THESE QUESTIO NS STILL REGULARLY APPEAR IN FORUMS ONLINE AND FORM THE CONTENT OF A LOT OF EMA IL THAT COMES TO MY INBOX. I’LL ALSO ANSWER SOME REGULAR HARDWARE TYPE QUE STIONS TOO AS WELL AS GENERAL THAT ARE FREQUENTLY SENT MY SIMMING QUESTIONS WAY.
MY, THE FREE-TO-USE MANAGEM A WHOLE NEW WORLD AND MUC ENT SYSTEM THAT ADDS H NEEDED SPICE TO YOUR FLIGH T SIMULATOR FLIGHTS. THIS ISSUE, I THOUGHT I WOULD EXPA ND UPON THAT ARTICLE BY DELV ING DEEPER INTO SOME FEATURES THAT YOU WILL FIND VERY USEFUL WHEN UTILIZING THE FSE WORLD, AND WE TAKE A LOOK AT TWO GREAT FSE APPL ICATIONS THAT WILL FURTHER EXTEND THE CAPABILITY AND USE OF THE SYSTEM.
80 BENCHMARKING FSX – NE FOR BUDGET COMPUTER W COMPONENTS BUILDS RECALL THAT IN THE LAST
84 SUGGESTIONS FOR MA KING A GREAT LANDING! PILOTS WILL TELL YOU THAT THE MOST IMPO
2010 ISSUE OF COMPUTER PILO T, I PROVIDED AN ARTICLE ON “BUDGET COMPUTER BUILDS FOR FSX.” THE INCLUDED HARDWAR E SUGGESTIONS WERE BASED ON MID-PRICED COMPON ENTS, WHICH I PROVED COULD PROVIDE ABOUT 90% OF THE FRAMERATE PERFORMANCE OF VERY HIGH-PRICED COMPONENTS . WITH ARTICLE PROVIDES UPDATED RECO MMENDATIONS FOR BUDGET COM THE 90% TARGET, THIS PUTER BUILDS FOR FSX.
RTANT AND MEMORABLE PART THAT LAST THREE INCHES, AND OF A FLIGHT IS INDEED THERE IS A GREAT DEAL OF SATISFACTION IN BEING ABLE TO CONSISTENTLY FLY A REAL LY SMOOTH AND IN-CONTROL APPROACH THAT CONCLUDES IN A GREAT LANDING. WE HAV E SOME TIPS THAT WILL HELP YOU ACHIEVE THAT “GREAT LANDING”.
REGULAR FEATURES: 46 HORTON’S HINTS FOR FSX TIPS TO MAKE
THE MOST OF YOUR FSX EXPERIEN CE!
JETLINE OFFERS NEW HELLFIRE SERIES PCs
Jetline Systems is a PC builder/assembly company that tailors new PC systems dedicated to flight simulator users. Customers can purchase pre-assembled PCs or customize existing PC platforms offered by the company to suit their needs or budget. The team at Jetline are flight sim pilots and have the background knowledge required to select and assemble PC systems to suit the demanding needs of flight simulation software and its associated control devices. Jetline have just announced a new line of PC systems they are calling the “Hellfire” series. “The long awaited 2nd generation Intel Core series processors are now available in Jetline System’s newest HellFire series flight simulation desktop PCs. Built upon Intel’s new P67 chipset the HellFire GT1 and GT2 systems include standard quad core processing, the latest GeForce GTX 500 series graphics processors, 10K RPM hard drive and SSD options and up to 16GB of high performance DDR3 system memory. The HellFire GT1 boasts a starting price of $1787 USD, making the new HellFire systems the ideal choice for the budget minded flight sim pilot!”
US CITIES X: CLEVELAND
Aer Aerosoft Germany have published many city scenery upgrades for the USA in the last few years and they are continuing t to add to the tally on a regular basis. One of their latest city scenery releases covers Cleveland in Ohio.
“From an aviation point of view Cleveland is the most thrilling city in this series so far. Take off from one of the last downtown airports in the US and test your abilities as a pilot doing some island hopping on the Lake Erie Islands. For pilots Cleveland is among the most fascinating cities in the US. Unlike Chicago it still has a Lakefront airport that is so insanely close to downtown that an approach there offers quite a lot for your eyes. Let it be the Browns Stadium, the Science Museum`s wind turbine or the Lakeshore Power plant that are just a few feet from the glideslope or the stunning views of those skyscrapers and many bridges crossing the Cuyahoga River. Last but not least the Lakefront Airport is well-known for the annual Cleveland National Air Show that takes place there.”
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Service features include: Jetline Factory Flight Test – Built and Tested for Flight Sim - Jetline performs a flight simulator flight test on every performance PC we build. So you know it’s “As real as it gets!” 30 Day Product Guarantee - If you are not completely satisfied with your Jetline performance PC, we will refund your money or upgrade your system to meet your needs. FlightGeek on Call - Need help with choosing the right Jetline product for you? Our FlightGeeks are ready to assistance you. Contact us today! 1.888.MYJETLINE (1.888.695.3854) You can customize a system online via the Jetline website and prices are updated in real time as each custom option is chosen. Head on over to www.jetlinesystems.com to check out the price on a custom flight sim system today.
• Aerial image coverage with up to 15cm/pix resolution. • Complete island hopping scenery covering the US Lake Erie Islands! • More than 640 major buildings included • 45,935 autogen objects placed realistically • Highly detailed and customized mesh terrain • 4 heliports in good detail • Major airports in and around the city as well as the islands are covered with new high res ground images with customized mesh terrain (no new building structures added): - Burke Lakefront - Cleveland Hopkins International Airport - Cuyahoga County Airport - Kelley’s Island - Put-In-Bay - Middle Bass Island - Middle Bass Island East Point - Rattlesnake Island - North Bass Island • Animated ship traffic and ferries between the islands • Low price, very good value for money For 14.95 Euros the package offers excellent detail and will certainly suit any virtual pilots who operate in the USA, and will be a must-have for anyone actually living in the Cleveland area. The product is available via download only from Aerosoft and selected sim download stores.
X-AVIATION COMPLETE CRJ200 FOR X-PLANE
If you haven’t looked at X-Plane lately, this new add-on may be the catalyst to do so. Developers X-Aviation are just about to release their first X-Plane aircraft add-on, the CRJ-200, and it looks absolutely stunning! Features include: • Custom simulated systems to mimic the real world aircraft, including a custom FMC! • Real world navigational data supported by Navigraph • Beautiful custom displays drawn by vectors and with real world simulated pages • Pop up displays when clicked on the panel • Immersive lighting effects never seen before in other X-Plane aircraft • Simulated ice, rain, and condensation! Visually stunning • Fully interactive 3D cockpit, exterior model, and cabin interior • Get the realistic airliner experience!
“The CRJ-200 brings forth many new features never seen before in the X-Plane flight simulator. The bigger of these features is the depth of the systems, and the use of custom vector drawn displays! None of these displays are default X-Plane gauges, providing truly accurate information. These simulations take a lot of CPU power, and we’ve gone the extra mile to put your multicore CPU to use! No longer will you have idling cores wasting away. Nope, with the CRJ we’ll effectively use what’s given to provide you with the best experience possible!” You will be able to find the new CRJ-200 package available for download from the group’s website at www.x-aviation.com Check it out and see just how far X-Plane and its add-on product availability has advanced in recent years.
AIR HAULER NOW FOR X-PLANE
X-Plane 9 users can now enjoy running their own virtual air freight operation with Just Flight’s Air Hauler add-on. The title, which has been available for FSX users for several years now, is now compatible and available for the XPlane simulator. “The limitless possibilities and flexibility of Air Hauler will let you immerse yourself totally in every operational detail of your freight company - each crucial flight will have an effect on the reputation and reach of your expanding freight empire. The level of complexity is up to you - simply fly jobs between bases and buy or lease aircraft, or carve out a career in the air freight industry by hiring AI pilots, trading shares on the stock market with real-world prices, and even risking everything on loans to fill your ultimate freight hangar.
There appears to be considerable interest among flight simmers for the newly released Short Sunderland from First Class Simulations. This may be because this aircraft is quite unique as a large flying boat with multiple role capability. The classic Sunderland has not ever really been available in good detail before, and while the First Class model is likely to still be somewhat basic in model and detail (compared to some top of the line add-ons), the ability to fly it in FSX or to some FS2004 is obviously appealing to many.
SHORT SUNDERLAND FLYING BOAT FOR FSX AND FS2004
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“The Short Sunderland has made an indelible mark in the annals of aviation history as the most iconic “flying boat” ever to take to the skies. Operating exclusively from water, the Sunderland has had a long and varied history. During World War 2 the aircraft spearheaded the U-Boat hunting patrols in the Atlantic Ocean, recording the first Allied kill in 1940. The Sunderland also excelled in maritime search and rescue operations and heavy transport duties, at times moving over 80 men and supplies in Mediterranean airlifts! Post-War the Sunderland continued to excel, notably with the British North Greenland Expedition ferrying supplies deep into the Arctic Circle. The package includes a lavishly recreated simulation of the Sunderland MK III, widely regarded as the definitive variant to be deployed around the world. From the cockpit layout through to the crew rest area the Short Sunderland has been modeled in exquisite detail with the support of the Sunderland Trust, to ensure absolute accuracy! Take to the skies in the most authentic Sunderland ever to fly in Flight Simulator with a wide range of liveries from the RAF, Commonwealth Forces and civilian operators. A range of included missions (FSX only) puts your flying skills to the test with challenging sorties around the world!
Air Hauler tracks all your financial activity, whether you’re buying aircraft or air bases, fuel or repairs, or paying for landing fees or even loans and leases. Take out insurance if you think the part-time pilots you’ve hired might let you down when you can least afford it. As the pilot charged with delivering the goods on time, you can decide to fly a job in multiple legs, or stop anywhere en route for refuelling or maintenance. If your management skills are needed in the boardroom, then recruit other pilots to fly jobs for you and keep track of them all with the AI pilot system. Detailed Map views showing all the airports in X-Plane will help you keep tabs on available jobs and the locations of your bases and fleet. Air Hauler puts you in charge every step of the way - from landings to leases, flight plans to finances, and repairs to recruitment.” The add-on is available via download only from Just Flight or stores offering Just Flight downloads. It is offered for around US$30.
Also included are detailed pilots notes and a wealth of historical reference in this special collector’s edition that is sure to delight fans of this unique aquatic aircraft.” The title is being offered for around 25 Pounds and will be available from good flight sim retailers worldwide.
NEW TOWER SIMULATOR ON THE HORIZON
Long time flight simmers will probably recall BAO’s Tower simulation from the late 1990’s which was the first simulator we knew of to feature an actual 3D tower view with landing and departing aircraft. It was some time before Feelthere.com released their version of a similar simulation in just the last few years, titled Tower Simulator. Now the same company is building another version, this time from scratch to solve some of the inherent issues in their first release. The new title is Tower 2011. “Tower 2011 has been developed from scratch. feelThere has received feedback over the past few years concerning air traffic control games and these suggestions have been implemented in this new simulation. The initial release includes three airports to challenge controllers of all skill levels. The smaller airport has been specifically selected to allow new controllers to learn the software and air traffic control procedures. After gaining experience the two major airports multiple runways and high traffic volumes will challenge experienced controllers.
One of the most interesting and technologically advanced aircraft of its time, the Harrier Jump Jet provided VTOL capabilities in a combat aircraft package. Although considered to not be one of the top aircraft in terms of air combat effectiveness when rated against other jet fighters of its time, its VTOL ability did make it a popular choice for many air forces around the globe. Now Wilco Publishing is releasing a new Jump Jet package for Flight Simulator X that brings this aircraft back into the FS world after many years of absence. Some of the features of the package include:
THE HARRIER MAKES A RETURN TO FLIGHT SIMULATOR
• Aircraft will follow inflight heading and turn commands. • Runway racetrack pattern commands are simulated. • Runway assignments for arriving and departing aircraft may be changed. • After takeoff headings can be assigned to aircraft prior to departure. • Runway intersection takeoffs are simulated. • Many of the newly issued FAA commands are simulated (such as line up and wait, taxi to ramp/apron). • Taxiway routing to and from parking and terminal areas can be assigned and changed. • Hold short commands may be issued for taxiways and runways. • Airport, schedule and airplane editors will be released and supported. • Dynamic lighting and shadows provide a stimulating visual environment. If you control for 24 hours you will see a full sun cycle calculated from real world data. • Full ground traffic (cars on freeways and major highways and streets) • Stereo sound. • Voice commands can be used using Microsoft’s Speech voice recognition technology.* For more information please the Tower 2011 forum and the Developer Diary at: http://forum.iemit.com/Default.aspx?g=topics&f=25 Tower 2011 will be available via download with a boxed release appearing a little later. Check with your favorite sim retailer for availability and pricing.
Exterior • Fully detailed, accurate exteriors depicting the famous GR3 (RAF) and FRS1 (RN) from the Falklands War period. • Many detailed animations including retracting eyelids over the glass radar nose (GR3), jet nozzles, flaps and all flight control surfaces and landing gear. • Selectable loadouts for weapons and external tankage. • Fully modelled, switchable ground power unit trailer Interior • Fully detailed accurate Harrier cockpit includes working nozzle control. • Fully featured Virtual Cockpit with illuminated HUD and 3D gauges including engine set and tank selectors, navigation gauges, radios and weapons loadouts. Fuel dump function is also included. • Stunning night lighting effects in the cockpit with realistic instrument and switch back-lighting. • Advanced radar showing AI traffic and other player aircrafts (if used in a multi-player session). Flight Model • A unique flight model has been developed for this aircraft which allows highly realistic simulation of the vertical takeoff and landing VTOL characteristics of the Harrier. Even the famous “airshow bow” can be replicated! • VTOL, STOL and conventional flights can be carried out with complete authenticity thanks to brand new programming technology replicating the exact auto nozzle/flap settings. No other simulation technique can replicate this as accurately! • The flight dynamics are true to type and require skill to master. This Harrier simulation is demanding yet very rewarding! • Cannon gun effect, firable from the cockpit, for the ADEN cannon pods.
If the package lives up to the marketing claims, it should be very impressive indeed. The Harrier Jump Jet title is due for release in boxed version on June 16, 2011 and will retail for 29.95 Euros. Check your preferred sim dealer for availability.
The Flight Sim Round Table
elcome to the Flight Simulator Round Table! Here we gather our flight sim experts to give their expert or personal opinion on the latest hot topics, flight sim news items, product announcements, and answers to those sim questions that are just begging to be asked!
Our panel of flight simulator experts:
Dean Bielanowski - Dean Bielanowski is a former RN with 17 years of flight sim experience
. He started with Flight Sim 4.0 and has developed scenery for earlier versions of the Microsoft Flight Simulator product. He is also a widely-published author and has been the full-time Editor of Computer Pilot Magazine since the later issues of Volume 4 onward. He mostly enjoys small GA to medium turboprop/jet flying and currently uses Flight Simulator X predominantly, but also flies X-Plane and various combat simulators as time permits!
John Lattanzio - John Lattanzio is a Nuclear Astrophysicist
who has been flying simulators since about 1987 or 88 when he was working at Livermore Labs in California. They gave staff a PC to enable them to work from home. The first thing he did was go and buy a flight simulator! He started with Chuck Yeager’s simulator, and has used every version of MSFS since, as well as most of its competitors. He likes flying almost all planes.
Roger Curtiss - Roger Curtiss is a retired police detective
who began simming with Microsoft Flight Simulator 95 and has continued with every progression since. He has been involved with the SATCO/VATSIM online ATC network since 1998 as a pilot, controller, network supervisor, VATUSA official and is now a member of the VATSIM Board of Governors. He enjoys participation on the network as a controller and virtual airline pilot with many hours logged, primarily flying the PMDG 737 series.
Harold Zimmer - Harold “Farmboyzim” Zimmer is a former Sergeant
in the United States Army and a retired Mortician. His first experience
with flight simulation was with Graphsim’s F/A-18 Hornet, Korea. He has been involved in flight simulation for over fifteen years, operates his own web site, Farmboyzim’s Flight Sims, and writes for Computer Pilot Magazine and AVSIM.com. He uses both FS9 and FSX. He’s an amateur aircraft developer and scenery creator. He has flown a real-world DC–3 and a Cessna 172.
Doug Horton - Doug Horton is a retired U.S. Naval Submarine Officer and consulting engineer
years of flight sim experience. In an effort to “get real,” he attained a private pilot certificate and instrument rating 10 years ago, and he’s a partner in a well-equipped Cessna 182. He flies near-matching models in both FSX and X-Plane, though mostly in FSX. He writes the Horton’s Hints column for every issue of Computer Pilot, along with other features.
1. What is it that you enjoy about using flight simulators, and do you think this hobby should be better marketed to the younger audience to guarantee future participation?
John Lattanzio: For me the fun is in learning the physics and the engineering sufficiently well that I can fly the plane accurately and safely, be it a bush pilot adventure or a major airline. The more accurate and detailed they get, the happier I am - although I reserve the right to ignore the simulation of the more boring parts! I find that most people think the sim is a game, and when they learn that it is not, most of them lose interest. So I am not sure there is a big audience who would use it more if they knew what it really was. I think those people probably find it anyway because of their interest in flying. Roger Curtiss: I earned a private pilot’s license in 1994 but the expense of personal flying quickly limited my opportunity to utilize it. Flight simulation allows me to keep my skills fresh and lets me enjoy some of the flight experience. I believe it is an excellent starting point for anyone, regardless of age who has an interest in flight, and is a superb introductory tool for anyone planning to undertake flight training. More important to maintaining future participation than marketing to a younger audience is the need to continually refresh, update and expand the product offerings to fuel continued interest in the flight sim community. Historically, this has occurred due to the efforts of commercial and freeware designers who contribute to enhance the available selections in extremely imaginative ways. Harold Zimmer: Flight simulation allows me the opportunity to explore and learn at the same time. It also provides a bit of “virtual aerial excitement” in a safe environment. I believe in an effort to recruit as many young people into this hobby as we can. This will do two things; provide a wider marketing base for add-on companies, and more importantly, it provides valuable education in many areas, such as geography, mathematics, navigation, and last but not least, a desire to learn to fly. These are only a few of the things that a person can learn from enjoying this hobby. Doug Horton: Where do I begin? I enjoy nearly all features of current simulator products, except the now outdated lessons in FSX. I enjoy flying an exact replica of the real Cessna 182 I coown; re-flying with flight sim airliners, real commercial flight plans I’ve flown as a passenger; flying and succeeding with FSX missions; plane-spotting AI traffic at add-on scenery airports - FSDreamFleet Las Vegas is my favorite; and more. There’s something for everyone. I think current products are successfully marketed to all potential audiences, but with all the feature advancements, there’s an issue for new users of “where to begin?” Adding tutorial videos or missions targeted for users of all ages and experiences would be helpful.
Dean Bielanowski: I enjoy exploring the virtual world from altitude, visiting new places and learning about the area as I go. In fact, Flight Simulator is a great learning tool in more ways than one. Most flight simmers who have spent any number of years flying their flight sims around the globe generally have a pretty good grasp of geography, geographical locations and effective use of maps, among many other things. In terms of marketing to a younger audience, I think more should be done. I know the younger generation are more geared toward console games it would seem, however, I think given the chance to try out a decent flight simulator, many of these kids and younger adults could really get into it. My eight year old son has only recently started to show an interest, and now it is hard to pry him away from Flight Simulator X. He prefers it over console games or handheld games now. It looks like my three year old boy will be the same too! So I say go for it, and get your children, grandchildren or any “younglings” you know into the hobby!
2. What is your opinion on the idea that some new flight simulators are more arcade style games than serious flight simulations? Do you think it will hurt the future of the genre? If so, in what way(s)?
John Lattanzio: I think there is room for both, and as long as they are clearly identified then they can co-exist. It would be a great pity to see a detailed sim turn into a game. As someone who does computer simulation for a living (stars, not planes) it is MUCH easier to develop a plausible simulation than it is to develop an accurate one! Games require plausability only and they are the easier route for developers. Perhaps we need to develop some rating scale that tells prospective purchasers how easy/realistic the simulation is? Roger Curtiss: My experience is with the Microsoft series of flight simulators which from inception through FSX have not succumbed to that style. However, I believe that any general tendency to move in that direction would be detrimental to maintaining the interest of longtime simmers by stifling some of the freedom they have with the current platforms to be imaginative, create their own scenarios and engage in particular areas of flight in which they may be interested. One of the strengths of the simulator platforms is that it allows the user to experience practically any particular realm of flying at any particular time. If Microsoft was to produce a new version that ran on an X-box or similar outside platform instead of by personal computer I believe it would alienate a significant percentage of the current simulator users. Harold Zimmer: It’s been my experience that most people haven’t even heard of Microsoft Flight Simulator and what it has to offer. This applies to young and old, pilots and non-pilots, and especially those that own “Playstations”. The reason they play these games is for the challenge. I believe if they were made aware of the “challenge” of landing a 747 or a fighter jet, and the “fun” that surrounds it; I think a few more folks may just switch genres! In this world of instant gratification I think one of the things is that having the PlayStation game, one doesn’t need any other add-ons except for different games. Flight simulation is more than a test of skill it’s also a test of patience. It could take time to build up your virtual hangar and enhance your virtual world, but that only makes you appreciate it that much more.
Doug Horton: There’s a place for arcade style games, and those may induce users to consider more realistic flight simulators, but I don’t think they detract from flight simulators. I’ve always kept in mind results of an Avsim survey a few years ago, in which 1/3 of flight sim responders indicated they were real pilots, former real pilots, or student pilots. Also, I’m aware of increasing uses of existing PC flight simulators for real government approved simulators (motion) and Advanced Aircraft Training Devices (no motion). Dean Bielanowski: I think there is always going to be a need for arcade games or dare I say it “simulators with an arcade game focus”. A real flight simulator is not going to appeal to everyone. It takes some time and effort to learn how to fly, and not everyone wants to invest that time. I think part of the success of the more dedicated simulators like Microsoft Flight Simulator, X-Plane, and Falcon 4 for example is that they allow the average person to do something they probably cannot do in real life (for whatever reason) and that individual wants things to be as “real as possible”. I think the evolution and growing popularity of console gaming has contributed to the move away from more pure flight simulations as these platforms really cannot handle the immense processing power a technically-coded flight sim software programme requires, and not to mention the vast array of controls required to fly them (a keyboard in particular is a good example) – no modern console has a physical keyboard that I know of). I think dedicated simulation of flight as a genre will always be there. We just need the right people to steer it in the right direction into the future.
Doug Horton: I’d choose the digital download, because when I choose an add-on, I usually want it NOW! As Internet speeds, bandwidth, and Internet users increase, most add-ons should be easily downloaded within reasonable times. I’d encourage product developers to lower prices on downloads, while charging competitive prices for boxed products, in proportion to incremental production and delivery costs. Downloadable product prices should be lower than boxed! Whenever I see an add-on download selling for more than FS2004/FSX, I feel the price is too high, and since revenue = unit sales x price, and demand usually increases with lower prices, many developers would increase revenues and products by offering downloads for MUCH lower prices. Dean Bielanowski: I have a mixed bag of download version and boxed version software, however, if there was a choice between the two, I would go boxed version for sure. The reason is primarily that downloaded products can be a pain to reinstall later on if the need arises, and it certainly will arise at some stage. Unless you have religiously backed up all your downloads and printed and stored your serials numbers, you will have to find your digital invoice, remember where you purchased it from, perhaps try and find your store account details, or retrieve them again online, then hope the store still has a record of your purchase and will let you re-download the item at a later date without paying again! With boxed versions, just grab the box off the shelf, install and away you go. Much less fuss. I “play” many other types of games and sims and have always found boxed items a lot more convenient to use, even if I have to wait a few days for the original order to be shipped.
3. If you were to purchase a flight sim addon today and it was available in both boxed version and as a digital download, which one would you likely choose and why?
John Lattanzio: I used to love getting the boxes and reading the manuals that came with the add-ons. But now the documentation is almost always a PDF file that must be printed. That is true in the box as well, as often as not. So I tend to not care anymore about whether the product is in a box or a download. I would pay (and have paid) extra to get a good hard copy of the manual. Perhaps not to the extent that PMDG have gone with their airliner manuals, but something nicely printed and bound that you can hold and flick through while flying the sim. I wonder if these could be marketed separately or if that is not viable? Roger Curtiss: All things being equal, I would opt for the download version as my internet connection is capable of delivering large content in a reasonable period of time. The major determinant for me would be the availability of manuals and associated documentation. It used to be that such content was provided on paper with boxed versions but it seems that there is more widespread use of PDF documents now so that advantage has been diminished and it would seem that, theoretically at least, a download version should be slightly lower in price as there is no packaging or shipping expense. Harold Zimmer: I always opt for the boxed version of a product whenever possible. I like the security of having a hard copy in my possession, and it also saves time in the requesting of new registration keys, emails and downloading. Besides, I think all those box products on my bookshelf look pretty darn cool! If you’re anything like me, they are a lot easier to keep track of also.
4. The new Microsoft FLIGHT is currently in production. Given what you have seen or know about it so far, do you think it will address the actual user issues or include the features that FSX and FS2004 users really want?
John Lattanzio: I have no inside info and hence this answer would be a guess! The limited info from MS on the Flight webpage is totally ambiguous - they are clearly concentrating on the scenery and be it a game or a sim, that is important. So I cannot tell from their information what we are going to get. My guess, from reading between the lines, is that they are re-writing FS. Actually throwing out most of the code, and starting again. They can then use the knowledge they gained in the older versions but also use new programming and hardware that was essentially impossible with legacy code. Roger Curtiss: All that I have seen of FLIGHT thus far have been screenshots. As far as I know details such as platform, features and performance have not yet been disclosed so it is difficult to offer an informed opinion as to whether it will address user issues or provide requested features. In order to be immediately popular with current simmers it will need to be compatible with aircraft designed for FSX (and ideally FS9 as well) and have an SDK available at release so that third party commercial and freeware developers will be able to immediately contribute meaningful content. It will also need to be “friendly” to less than full-blown operating systems and not display the performance issues that deterred many FS9 users from moving on to FSX.
Harold Zimmer: I remember when FSX was coming out, all the speculation that surrounded the product, the assumptions, the surprises, and the disappointments. I find it hard to speculate on what a company is going to do with a final product, once they announce the initial development. It does sound as if they are trying to involve more folks in the hobby by making “it” easier to “interface”. Perhaps meaning easier flying models? It does sound as if they are going to make multi-player flying a much simpler experience. They do mention an “integrated content market place (ICMP)”. This is not discussed in any depth that I could find, but I have heard of concerns from private developers that 3rd party payware may only be available thru this “ICMP”. There doesn’t seem to be any hard facts yet that I can see, but it does look interesting enough to investigate further, when it does hit the markets. Doug Horton: I don’t know, as the communications from the team are limited this early in development, but the good news is there’s a channel for feedback - firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ve sent about a dozen significant suggestions and I’d encourage all flight simmers to do so, as that’s the best way to point out issues and suggest features. Dean Bielanowski: Judging by what Microsoft has released so far in terms of video and screenshots (which isn’t much) it would appear the core engine of Microsoft FLIGHT is perhaps heavily based upon FSX, with some improvements. Again, I have only seen a limited amount of material. There appears to be a lot of background improvements contributing to the visual look and feel of the sim, but we have no information on any upgrades or overhauls to the flight physics, systems simulations or anything of that order. I am sure Microsoft do listen to user input and hopefully will include some of the more often requested features, although saying that, many of these features are now being added to Flight Simulator X by third party developers! Time will tell. Hopefully we will have more information on hand in the very near future to better answer this.
Roger Curtiss: The flight simulator platforms currently offered provide a remarkable and vibrant experience so any refinements would probably be in areas that would not affect all users. For example, one upgrade would be an improvement of the internal ATC system. While I do not believe an AI system can ever replace a live, online network for accuracy, quality and flexibility, there are many simmers who are intimidated by or unable to utilize online networks but would nonetheless like to have a fully functioning ATC engine and the AI ATC leaves much to be desired in that area. Probably the biggest realism boost is achievable through hardware additions such as cockpit shells, physical controls (instrumentation and switches) and motion capability. While all of these items are presently available their cost makes them impractical for all but the most dedicated (and well heeled) enthusiast. Harold Zimmer: I’m going out on a “futuristic” limb here, but if someone was to develop an AFFORDABLE Virtual Helmet/Goggle system, thus eliminating the need for the monitor, I would snap it up in a heartbeat! These devices are already out there, but not dedicated for us “common flight simmers”. It would probably take a bank loan at this point in time to come up with this configuration, but in this industry, time has a way of making things simpler AND affordable! Doug Horton: I’d like to see operating models of several flight management and navigation systems, perhaps in concert with manufacturers such as Honeywell, etc. (FMS/FSC), Garmin etc. (GPS/GNS). I’d also like to see new Flight products and X-Plane v10 include newer GA models, from light sport on the low end, to Cirrus, Cessna Columbia/Corvallis, Piper Matix, and others on the high end. Similarly add more business jets, regional jets, and airliners, all representative of most popular models. Dean Bielanowski: I have always believed that the “human” aspect of flight simulation is what really makes it what it is, so online multiplayer compatibility and advancement is something I consider vital, but also the ability to make flight simulator come alive. We have AI traffic, cars on roads, even wildlife in later versions. It’s time to add people now, and this too is coming. Developers like Orbx are already implementing it in FSX in a basic and raw form. I’d like to see the capability of displaying boarding and disembarking passengers, active ground crews and a more interactive airport experience in future versions of Flight Simulator or X-Plane. I am sure it will happen sooner or later, and I can’t wait! Thanks to the panel for their responses in this first Flight Sim Round Table discussion. If you have a question relating to flight simulation you would like to forward to the panel for a future Round Table discussion, please forward your question to the editor via email at email@example.com
5. What, in your opinion, would be the most useful feature you could add to any of the current crop of flight simulators (FS2004/ FSX/X-Plane etc) that would provide the biggest realism boost to the flight sim experience?
John Lattanzio: Very good question! I am not sure! Just when I think that there is nothing new that can be done, someone comes out with a fantastic new add-on. I think the most valuable additions, and the essential ones, are new textures for skies and clouds and better scenery. But these are already out there so they do not answer the question! I guess multiple monitors covering much of one’s field of vision, with either separate instruments or the instruments on a separate monitor, is the thing I would pick. But I hope someone has a more clever answer than this.
BY DR JOHN LATTANZIO
nnsbruck (LOWI) has something for everyone. It’s a spectacular area, in the Inn valley of the Austrian Alps, so slow GA flying is very rewarding. There is a glider base there because the weather is perfect (at times!) and the Alps are always very rewarding when viewed by helicopter. And if you like flying the heavies then the approach to Innsbruck is very challenging, even without the turbulence of the Foehn winds that occur regularly (see my article in CP from August 2006). So it is a perfect airport to get a makeover. And Aerosoft have done it with a fantastic eye to detail. The scenery package is titled “Approaching Innsbruck” because it covers the approach and the valley, not just the airport itself, which is rather small. The detail is great, with AES-Lite included to drive the vehicles around the airport and the town. This even includes trains with working crossings! There are many 3D objects, and the lighting in particular is excellent at night. A lot of effort has gone into this product and it
shows. The road network is very nice with lots of bridges and freeways included. The hospital is one of many heliports included so I recommend doing some exploring by chopper too! So are there any criticisms? Well there are no charts included in the otherwise very nice manual. Well, you can download those. My only real criticism is that when following the approach taught to me for a 737 by Austrian Airlines’ Capt Walter Meuller, I was unable to find the electricity wires that cross the Axamer plateau and were a signal to commence the final turn to Runway 08. They were there in the FS2004 version of Austria Pro and, if they were there in the FSX version, then Approaching Innsbruck seems to have removed them. I have not had time to sort this out yet, but it’s not a major criticism in any case. You will notice if you are using default FSX scenery that the Inn River comes to a sudden stop at one stage! This is covered in the manual – it’s due to a fault in the FSX scenery. So why did Aerosoft not fix it? Because they discovered that
most of the people interested in LOWI already had Ultimate Terrain Europe installed, and that addon fixes the position of the river. So they have a section of the manual on compatibility with other add-ons, including UT Europe and the excellent Austria Professional package. If you are serious about flying in this are, then indeed you should have both of these to complement this package, and then you will have many hours of spectacular and challenging flying ahead of you. Even without them, Approaching Innsbruck gives you highresolution mountains and lots of detail, both static and dynamic – and you can forgive the sudden end to the river! Overall, the scenery additions are high quality and highly recommended! Get them and start enjoying all that LOWI and the beautiful scenery surrounding it have to offer. Approaching Innsbruck is available in boxed version and retails for US$29.95 and is available from good flight sim retailers worldwide.
APPROACHING THE INN VALLEY FROM THE WEST SUMMER TEXTURES ARE BEAUTIFUL
LOTS OF ACTIVITY AND BEAUTIFUL LIGHTING AT LOWI WHHHEEEEEEE!
PilotEdgeNetwork Air Traffic Control
BY DOUG HORTON
hen I began writing for a computer flight simulation magazine about twelve years ago, I was engaged to write a bimonthly article about online air traffic control for Microsoft Flight Simulator 98 using the SATCO online ATC network. At the time, I had not yet attained my private pilot certificate or subsequent instrument rating, and I frequently called my
commercial pilot brother-in-law to verify the correctness of what I was writing, particularly regarding ATC procedures and communications. At the time, SATCO communications between pilots and controllers were achieved through chat boxes, and the training and availability of controllers was inconsistent and sporadic.
As time progressed, SATCO was replaced by VATSIM, and the IVAO ATC network was developed. In varying degrees, these networks provide training for controllers and pilots along with various forms of documentation, such as arrival, approach, airport, and departure charts. Significantly, with increasing Internet communication capabilities, both networks transitioned to offer voice communications several years ago, and both provide broad areas of voluntary coverage. Yet, there are issues, and the last time I tried flying with VATSIM, for example, I took off from Portland, Oregon KPDX, for a short flight to Seattle Tacoma KSEA in a simulated Boeing 727. I selected the city pair because at the time, both airports had a variety of VATSIM controller positions operating, but by the time I approached KSEA, none of the related controller positions was active. As an example of the last item, during the beta process with PilotEdge and X-Plane, I participated in a suggested Focus Flight, from Barstow-Dagget, California airport KDAG to Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona airport KGCN. More on that experience later.
The two well known systems for providing online ATC networks for flight simulator users are comprised of large numbers of volunteer controllers and associated administration and training staffs that work to provide ATC across the entire world. PilotEdge developer Smith is a veteran of the VATSIM network, with seven years experience and accumulation of more than 4,000 hours of controller time. His experience has provided considerable knowledge about and insight into the intricate operations required to provide a successful online ATC environment. In view of his personal experience as an instrument rated private pilot and airplane owner, developer Smith suggests that the existing networks are not capable of delivering a reliable, repeatable experience for pilots because: • ATC presence is not guaranteed for particular areas at particular times, • ATC quality, including knowledge of airspace and procedures, is not guaranteed, • traffic density is typically much lower than real world levels, • pilot experience, aircraft operation, and interest level is inconsistent, and • users participate for a wide variety of reasons, they have different expectations of the volunteer networks, and these differences can quickly degrade the experiences of those who are there for serious training or maintenance of currency purposes. Smith suggests that radio operation on the volunteer online ATC networks is significantly different from operations of real world aviation radios. This includes the lack of use of realistic Common Traffic Advisory Frequencies (CTAFs), lack of transmission and reception distance modeling, and most importantly, operating models that result in controllers working different roles (Delivery, Ground, Tower, Approach/Departure, and Enroute), all on a single frequency. The resulting experience is confusing for real world pilots who are looking for an ATC environment that mirrors their real world experience. Finally, in addition to these significant challenges, the volunteer networks are simply not equipped to cater to the needs of commercial flight training organizations, which are part of the intended customer base for the PilotEdge network.
Comparison with Other Online ATC Networks
DIAGRAM OF TYPICAL NETWORK CONNECTING PILOTS AND CONTROLLERS
Pilot Edge (www.PilotEdge.net) is a new commercial online air traffic control service for both FS9/FSX and X-Plane that will provide the services of well-trained controllers at scheduled times in designated locations. It differs from VATSIM and IVAO by the fact that controllers are paid, and users will pay some type of fee after the service is fully developed and becomes operational. According to PilotEdge developer Keith Smith: “Computer flight simulators are excellent tools for practicing emergency and instrument procedures, with one glaring exception. They haven’t been able to replicate the critical interaction between pilots and Air Traffic Control, until now. PilotEdge is a commercialgrade service that connects your flight simulator to our online network of pilots and controllers, allowing you to see other airplanes, hear other pilots on the radio, and work with ATC, just like you would in the real world. The ATC services are provided in real time, by real people; they are not computer-generated.” Here are some of the flying roles that Smith suggests PilotEdge users can experience: • Practice VFR landing patterns • Perform VFR “air work” in a practice area, where you really need to make those clearing turns • Make VFR cross country flights with flight advisories by ATC – also called “flight following” • Request Bravo, Charlie, and Delta airspace transitions • File and receive an IFR clearance, including periodic flight plan amendments by ATC • Call for a “pop-up” IFR clearance • If appropriately equipped, request and receive enroute “direct” clearances • Practice instrument approaches under Visual or Instrument Meteorological Conditions • Practice “see and avoid” techniques • Practice non-towered pattern operations and radio work • Participate in virtual fly-ins with your flight sim pilot friends • Take part in regularly scheduled PilotEdge online events
PilotEdge online ATC quality is guaranteed by a rigorous quality assurance process that is not practical to implement on the volunteer networks. PilotEdge controllers are hand-picked to join the organization, in contrast to the volunteer networks, which are obliged to work with most anyone who wishes to become a controller. According to developer Smith, “in addition to sufficient airspace and procedural knowledge, controllers must demonstrate authoritative command of the radio as the lack of such authority can quickly undermine the confidence of pilots in the system, and detract from the overall experience.” Following training and assignment to ATC positions, controllers must demonstrate continuous proficiency, as the developer routinely “plugs in” to monitor ATC sessions, and there will be ongoing, formal QA checks of controller proficiency by a QA expert from a well known aeronautical university.
Controller Qualification and Certification
You can view the Oakland Center coverage area at http://bit. ly/grZTwY and the Los Angeles Center coverage area at http://bit. ly/ejgdpH, on a variety of chart backgrounds furnished by www. SkyVector.com, including Sectional, World Aeronautical Chart (WAC), Low Enroute, and High Enroute charts. The accompanying images show the PilotEdge coverage areas (inside the magenta line segments) for Oakland and Los Angeles ARTCCs, as viewed on WAC CG-18 as a background.
PILOTEDGE CONTROLLER SCREEN, SHOWING THREE AIRCRAFT LINED UP FOR LANDING AT JOHN WAYNE-ORANGE COUNTY AIRPORT KSNA
Similar to the volunteer online ATC networks, the Internet enables controllers to reside anywhere in the world, though they must develop knowledge similar to real world controllers, including detailed knowledge of the airspace and related sectors they’re controlling, proper ATC communications terminology, aircraft model speeds and performance capabilities, and conformance with real world rules and regulations for the areas controlled.
One of the necessary tradeoffs of PilotEdge is that the geographic coverage will be limited. Initially, coverage will include the areas of southern and northern California that are within the respective control of Oakland and Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Centers. These areas were selected because they are popular areas for flight simulation flying, in part because of the variety of scenery and terrain.
LOS ANGELES ARTCC AREA BOUNDARY SHOWN ON WORLD AERONAUTICAL CHART CG-18
The PilotEdge flying area is quite large, and users can plan a wide variety of flights. The north to south dimensions extend from Eureka and Mt. Shasta, California to Tijuana, Mexico and Yuma Arizona, while the west to east dimensions extend from the Pacific Ocean to Reno and Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada in the Oakland Center area, and from the Pacific Ocean to Las Vegas, Nevada and Grand Canyon, Arizona in the Los Angeles Center area. With the development of the PilotEdge frequency management system, there is no need to know which controller positions are currently operating. The only information required is whether ATC is online for the Air Route Traffic Control Center in which the user intends to fly – ZLA for SoCal and ZOA for NorCal, with the dividing line around the Paso Robles PRB VOR. That information is easily seen by noting the network status in the right-hand column of the www.PilotEdge.net homepage.
OAKLAND ARTCC AREA BOUNDARY SHOWN ON WORLD AERONAUTICAL CHART CG-18
PILOTEDGE HOMEPAGE, SHOWING NETWORK STATUS DURING BETA SESSION
One of the realistic aspects of PilotEdge is replication of air traffic control sectors and related frequencies. Most flight sim users understand the distinctions between ATC functions such as Ground, Tower, Approach/Departure, and Center in North American airspace. Possibly new information for many flight sim enthusiasts is that Approach/Departure and Center ATC functions are divided into individual control sectors with separate frequencies and individual controllers, or sometimes with shared sectors during periods of low traffic. In PilotEdge operation, the real world sectors and related frequencies are used. The accompanying image shows the sector divisions and assigned frequencies for the Los Angeles ARTCC.
ATC Sector Realism
To allow users to focus on their own flights and related communications, the automated aircraft do not respond to ATC commands, and they do not make any radio transmissions; however, they remain clear of Class A, B, C, and D airspace. They generally operate in and out of non-towered airfields, and as such, pilot users should remain vigilant for aircraft in the pattern that are not talking on the radio. Here are examples of the variety of flights performed by automatic traffic: • Landing pattern work by GA single, twins, and business jets • Cross country fights by GA single, twins, and business jets • Air work (stalls, steep turns, climbs, turns, simulated engine outs, etc.) • Military formation ferry flights • Military formation exercises in military operating, restricted, and warning areas • Military formation operations on military training routes • Helicopter air tours of the Grand Canyon • Santa Catalina island air tours
Though both FS9/FSX and X-Plane programs include their own map features, PilotEdge provides a browser-hosted map that displays user aircraft, automated aircraft traffic, and controllers online. Users can elect to hide the automated traffic and display user aircraft and controllers only. It’s also possible to display a track of user aircraft, by clicking the adjacent checkbox for that aircraft and also checking “show tracks” near the top of the list of user aircraft. If a checkbox is clicked for any user or automated traffic, the map will center on that aircraft as the map is updated.
MAP OF LOS ANGELES CENTER CONTROL SECTORS AND ASSIGNED FREQUENCIES
Another great feature of PilotEdge is the number of automated flights, both general aviation and military, which fly in California airspace 24/7. According to developer Smith, “their appearance and flight paths are carbon copies of flights that were recorded by our pilots to provide background traffic.” Smith continues, “In the real world, it’s very common for ATC to point out aircraft to you that are VFR and not talking to anyone. One other feature is that automated traffic aircraft are fully visible in the air and on the ground.
MAP OF AUTOMATED TRAFFIC AIRCRAFT IN LOS ANGELES ARTCC AREA
OTHER PILOTED OR AUTOMATED TRAFFIC AIRCRAFT ARE VISIBLE WHEN CONNECTED TO PILOTEDGE
MAP OF USER AIRCRAFT DURING ONE SESSION, WITH POPUP INFORMATION BOX FOR ONE AIRCRAFT
Another interesting feature is that on the list of users’ aircraft, the frequency in use by each aircraft is listed, along with ATC facility with which each aircraft is communicating, and other data. Impressively, the map is automatically updated about every 10 seconds. Users can select Map, Satellite, or Terrain backgrounds for the PilotEdge map feature, and if any individual aircraft is clicked on the map, a popup box opens with detailed information about the aircraft and its flight particulars. An additional, available tool for PilotEdge users is a statistics page at http://peaware.pilotedge.net/. This webpage, called “PEAware,” shows continuously updated statistics for pilots on the network. It also provides several search functions, as shown in the upper left area of the webpage. Trying out this feature, I found information about my Focus Flight from KDAG to KGCN, which I’ll describe below.
Using the PEAware search function, we can find details of my filed Focus Flight plan from KDAG to KGCN. As you can see, my filed route was via the GOFFS (GFS) and Peach Springs (PGS) VORs, at 7000 feet, and 130 knots, though I was reminded by PilotEdge Clearance Delivery that I’d need to climb to 9000 feet at some point to comply with charted Minimum Enroute Altitudes (“MEAs”) of airway flight segments.
PEAWARE FLIGHT INFORMATION FOR IFR FLIGHT FROM KDAG TO KGCN PEAWARE PROVIDES STATISTICAL TRACKING HISTORY FOR PILOTS ON THE PILOTEDGE FLIGHT NETWORK
Installation is very simple. For X-Plane, after registering for PilotEdge services, it’s only necessary to perform three additional steps: 1. Download the installation files. 2. Copy VSProPlugin.xpl and a few *.dll files to the X-Plane\ Resources\plugin folder 3. Copy the VSPro Resources folder to the X-Plane\Resources\plugin folder, to install a few other necessary files and the PilotEdge automated traffic resources, including aircraft models. Installation for FS9 and FSX will likely be very similar.
My route is shown graphically on another part of the search results web page on a Terrain background, and note that there’s a descriptive legend to the left of the chart. If you look closely at the flight plot, you’ll see that it deviates from a straight line just before KGCN. This is because I realistically requested from Center, vectors for a practice RNAV (GPS) approach to KGCN Runway 3.
Operation is quite simple. From the X-Plane menu bar, users click on Plug-in, VSPro, Connect, after which a popup appears. Next, enter username, password, callsign, ICAO aircraft model, plus airline and livery, if applicable, and then press Connect on the popup box. A separate popup will report Connected, and the user can immediately communicate on the appropriate frequency, such as Ground for a VFR flight. Users desiring to fly IFR go back to the menu bar and click Plug-in, VSPro, File IFR, and then fill-in and submit an abbreviated flight plan form, after which they follow usual procedures, such as calling Clearance Delivery for the departure airport.
Operation and Sample Flight Experience
PEAWARE FLIGHT PLOT OF FLIGHT FROM KDAG TO KGCN.
Finally, the PEAware search results page for my flight shows the altitude and speed profiles for my flight, along with automated position reports (not all shown in screen image) and a navigation log. You can see that I initially climbed to 7000 feet and later I was cleared to 9000 feet to meet MEA requirements. You may note in the speed profile that I reached 200 knots at one point, though I was simulating flight in a Cessna 182. The ground speed increases over the airplane’s nominal 130 knot speed were accomplished by setting a strong tailwind at 9000 feet using X-Plane’s Environment controls. PilotEdge is planned to be available for users with FS9/FSX and XPlane. At time of writing, PilotEdge was available for free beta testing with X-Plane, with installation downloads and instructions posted on the Beta page. During the beta period, PilotEdge is available mostly for the SoCal area, with recommended “focus flights” every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday evening, at posted times. Plans are underway to expand PilotEdge to FS9/FSX, and to expand the geographical and controller coverage in proportion to the number of registered users. Hopefully, it will be a simple matter to make it compatible with the new Microsoft Flight product.
X-Plane and FS9/FSX Compatibility
During the beta phase, the staffing schedule is published on the Pilot Edge Beta page. Controller staffing is guaranteed during the posted hours and may be extended on a voluntary basis. After PilotEdge is released, plans are for the network to be staffed approximately 15 hours per day, 7 days per week. This will allow ample opportunity for pilots from all U.S. time zones to use the service. The PilotEdge network, with or without controllers on duty, is planned to be available 24/7. VFR pilots will be able to communicate with each other on published Common Traffic Advisory Frequencies (CTAF) for all airports, as in the real world. Pilots flying at towered airports outside of the coverage area, or outside of the published ATC coverage hours should treat the towers as being closed, and simply announce their departure and arrival intentions on the respective airport’s CTAF frequency, which is typically the Tower frequency for each airport.
PEAWARE HORIZONTAL PROFILES, POSITION REPORTS, AND NAVIGATION LOG
A significant detail about my departure from KDAG attests to the realism that’s achieved by simulated flying with PilotEdge ATC. KDAG is a non-towered airport and it’s somewhat remote, so you can’t call Clearance Delivery as you would at a towered airport. What to do? I used www.airnav.com to look up KDAG from the Airports tab, and then I clicked on the link for the RNAV (GPS) Runway 26 approach chart. As shown, the information block at the top of the chart provides three frequencies: ASOS (weather) at 132.175, LA Center 132.5, and Unicom (CTAF) 123.0. What I did next was based on being able to contact LA Center on 132.5, on the ground, though there’s a telephone call to Flight Service option if this had not worked. But it did, so I contacted LA Center to obtain my clearance, listened to the ASOS weather at KDAG, and then I announced my taxiing, and departure and direction, on CTAF 123.0. Once in the air, I contacted LA Center on 132.5 to report “off Barstow-Dagget,” position, and altitude, after which I heard the familiar but important “radar contact” response. The flight continued with amazing, realistic conformance to real procedures.
My PilotEdge flight experiences in preparation for this article were so realistic, I had to reorient myself to the fact that I was sitting in front of a 21” computer display, with USB headset and flight simulator yoke and rudder pedals, and not flying my partnership Cessna 182. The workload of being “in the system” was also completely realistic. My experience was affirmed in an interesting discussion with developer Smith, in which he mentioned that during the beta process, he received feedback from several real world pilots, all of whom said PilotEdge has completely changed what it means to them to fly with a computer flight simulator. Smith continued by saying that “many of the beta test pilots have flown simulated approaches offline with no issues, but they often found themselves “getting behind the airplane” when flying with PilotEdge online ATC. Two pilots (one real world, instrument rated, and the other an instrument student) were cleared for holds and proceeded to make errors when flying them. Another instrument rated pilot flew a straight-in approach when he should have flown the hold in lieu of a procedure turn – something that left him far too high and struggling to descend in time for landing. With a debriefing afterwards via e-mail, this pilot learned a terrific lesson.” Developer Smith suggests that it’s possible to have some of these experiences with the free online ATC networks, but “there’s no guarantee of quality service, and virtually no chance of conflicting VFR traffic on a regular basis,” as examples of differences. Smith contrasts online ATC options to the differences between tap water and bottled water. “Sometimes, the tap water is pretty good, while at other times, it might make you sick! Bottled water costs a little more, but it’s a known quantity, every time.” From having tried the online ATC alternatives, I agree completely. In this writer’s opinion, this breakthrough product is going to be a great addition to commercial and home flight simulation for hobbyists and real pilots, and I expect it will be a great success. I’m looking ahead to my next PilotEdge Focus Flight as pre-release testing continues!
INFORMATION BLOCK ON KDAG RNAV (GPS) RWY 22 APPROACH CHART
IEW EV R
BY DAVID EDGAR
GF-TPM and GF-SECM
Flying Time - 50 hours
dvancements in computer technology and simulator flight controls has inspired a new era in home flight simulation I like to call ‘computer aviation.’ I call it computer aviation because I think home flight simulation has evolved beyond the realm of ‘just gaming.’ Interestingly, many professional pilots now use home flight simulators to augment their real world training. To help achieve the bridge
between simulation and reality, flight controls and avionics hardware takes on a major role. Today we are looking at a couple of the newer modules from the GoFlight line of modular desktop avionics panels made for “computer aviation”. These are the GoFlight Throttle/Pitch/ Mixture module and the GoFlight Single Engine Control Module. We also look briefly at the GF-AC Mini Rack.
When it comes to flight control hardware, one company that always provides value for money is GoFlight (www.goflightinc.com). GoFlight products are designed and built to satisfy both professional and amateur aviators alike, including the ‘flight simmer.’ Whether you equip your home computer with the top of the range, “GoFlight Ultimate ATP System (Airline Transport Pilot),” or add one module at a time to build up your cockpit as budget permits, you can be assured of quality products and responsible support. In this article we review the GoFlight Throttle/Pitch/Mixture Control Module (GF-TPM) as well as a suitable mount – the GoFlight GF-AC Mini Rack (sold separately). Later on we will look at the GoFlight Single Engine Control Module.
Inside the GF-TPM Module
There are three (3) push/pull sliders (sliding potentiometers) attached to the circuit board of the GF-TPM. One for throttle, propeller pitch and mixture. GoFlight components are usually of high quality and very durable, giving many years of service. The circuit board attaches to the aluminum powder coated face plate and the controls extend through the plate. The colored knobs attach with an Allen screw.
There were several items in the box: the GF-TPM module, plus associated software and paperwork. Also included was the USB cable as well as screws to fasten the module in the GF-AC Mini Mount Rack (sold separately) or a suitable mount of your own if you have an existing custom-built panel.
What’s in the box?
The Mini Rack Mount
The faceplate also matches the construction and finish of the GF-AC Mini Rack and stands 50 millimeters (two inches) tall. Each control function is clearly stamped on the faceplate, white on gray. The mini-rack holds two 50mm modules and I chose to mount the engine control unit in the lower rack bay. The unit is secured in the rack by two “knurled collared” stainless steel thumbscrews – what an excellent idea for ease and speed of installation and removal. After connecting the supplied USB cable to the rear of the module (I did not connect the other end to my computer yet), I was ready to install the software.
For testing, I use two systems: a 32-bit XP system for FS2004, and a 64-bit Windows 7 machine for FSX and X-Plane 9. Although installation software accompanies the package, the latest drivers are available from the website - www.goflightinc.com/support Where possible, always check for and download the latest drivers from GoFlight and use those instead of any included in the box. The latest driver set usually incorporates any bug fixes, as well as adds any new driver-based features or compatibility to the products. The software installed like a breeze and, after the prudent restart, I connected the other end of the USB cable to my Windows 7 machine (installation into the XP machine was identical). Detection of the unit was instantaneous and a quick trip to the game controller’s window in the Windows Control Panel revealed the GF-TPM Module listed and ready to go.
Installing the Software
The mounting rack (GF-AC Mini Rack Mount) is worth mentioning first. Humble as it is, it has the responsibility of housing and securing the individual modules in your flight simulator. Furthermore, it contributes, albeit passively, to an important positional function in any basic home simulator setup. All GoFlight mounting racks, including the GF-AC Mini Rack Mount, come powder coated (in gray), and are manufactured from light gauge aluminum. I hold engineering qualifications and I certainly appreciate the rack’s tough construction. When mounted the rack feels secure. Additionally, when operating the controls, the unit does not rock back and forth like some of the plastic offerings on the market today; it is solid and will last for years. Of course, you can also readily fasten the GF-TPM to a custom panel, but the screws provided are machine screws for metal only. If your custom panel is made from plywood or other wooden or composite materials, you will need to supply your own fasteners suitable for these materials. Panhead screws are usually the best option here (they are dome head screws with an integrated washer underneath).
The final stage of set up occurs within the software itself. Whether flying FS9, FSX, or X-Plane, in order to avoid conflicts I disconnected the USB cable from other throttles, went to assignments in Flight Simulator, and deleted the “joystick” commands linked with the old throttle, pitch and mixture functions then reassigned them to my new GF-TPM.
“Murphy’s Law” can enter the equation if you ignore the above procedure. This needs to be rechecked on subsequent starts as MSFS can sometimes reload your original assignments if the joystick is enabled in the options panel. X-Plane, of course, is extremely easy to configure and does not suffer this quirk. For X-Planers, simply go to the settings menu in X-Plane and assign the commands; it really is that easy. Next, as is my custom nowadays, it was time to accurately calibrate the new TPM unit. I suspect many simmers do not bother with this, but ignore the accurate calibration and you will see what I mean. I then proceeded to the assignments page and checked that the sensitivities were at maximum and the nulls to zero for the throttle, propeller, and mixture controls. As noted earlier, a final visual check was in order to make sure that there were no conflicting assignments and that all controls worked correctly. It takes a couple of extra minutes, but hey, it also avoids the frustration that inevitably comes when nothing works as it should without proper setup. It was time to start the engine. Some flight controls and associated software only work with specific versions of flight simulator or specific aircraft add-ons. This is not the case with GoFlight products. They are purpose built to plug into all well written add-on aircraft. There may be some aircraft the GoFlight gear may not work 100% with, especially some of the more detailed add-ons or those that do not conform with the standard Flight Simulator or X-Plane operating codes for keystrokes or inputs. GoFlight does have a SDK available for developers to allow them to integrate support for GoFlight products with their add-ons. It is a sensible idea to undertake this as it would increase the potential purchaser count if add-on aircraft are made GoFlight module compatible.
Now in the cockpit, visually, the familiar Mooney push/pull controls and matching colors: black for throttle, blue for pitch (propeller blade angle), and red for mixture in flight simulator correspond to the same colors on the TPM. These match industry practice and generate confidence because the engine controls display an aura of both familiarity and comfort. In addition, in real aeroplanes the feel of each knob is distinctive and the GoFlight unit also offers distinctive tactile feel and design as well. In this module, the throttle knob is smooth, the propeller grooved, and the mixture control is ridged providing affirmation when feeling for the controls under high workload or low light conditions. This is especially important when one has their eyes outside the cockpit or a cabin light bulb blows at night. The push/pull factor and color, coupled with the individual touch identification in aircraft that use controls similar to this is important for realism and adds immersion to the experience. On startup in the Mooney, during taxi, and again at run-up just before takeoff, all three sliders operated as accurately as the software allowed and all visual and audible indicators responded as expected. After takeoff I engaged the autopilot and let this slippery favorite of mine effortlessly ascend to 3000 meters (10,000 feet). This was to again check the mechanical operation and positioning of the sliders associated with each push/pull control under simulated flight conditions. During climb-out and cruise, I also wanted to check, somewhat proportionally, if the engine control slider positions caused responses to both the audio and the gauges simulating engine operation. They did. Throttle movements corresponded to changes in the displays affecting the manifold air pressure (MAP) gauge, the propeller slider caused correct responses in the RPM gauge, and finally, the mixture slider caused a response in the cylinder head temperature (CHT), turbine inlet temperature (TIT), and fuel flow gauges respectively. With the proviso that this is a computer, all visual indicators, engine instruments, engine sounds, and slider movements operated quite well on both cruise and decent. It is important to remember that this review only evaluates the effect the three sliding potentiometers of the GF-TPM have on the flight simulator software and not the software itself.
I decided to test on two aircraft in FS2004 and FSX; the default Mooney Bravo and the Cessna U206 Stationair by Carenado. I have time in both airplanes in the real world, and fly them often in both versions of Flight Simulator too. I used the default C172 Skyhawk in X-Plane.
In the Cockpit
So far the installation had gone well and if I expected the GF-TPM Module to work well, I was not disappointed. However, if the reader would allow me one observation… I was a little dissatisfied, and this is purely personal because I am used to the larger knobs on the real airplanes, with the physical size, feel, and operation of the knobs and sliders. They are smaller than their real world cousins, and I would like more “feel” in the sliders; a friction control would be ideal. I suspect technology, cost of manufacture, and therefore, end product pricing comes into play here, but this certainly does not affect, nor does it detract from the overall performance of the GF-TPM. I would still buy it.
To sum up, the GF-TPM works well in either X-Plane or MSFS and I could not detect any blemishes of operation in either of my test systems. I continue to be impressed with the latest hardware available to complement the desire to better our flying skills and, like many, am always searching for that affordable add-on. I think the GoFlight GF-TPM Module is certainly worth considering if you want something that is attractive, affordable, robust, and works straight out of the box. Above all, it is gremlin free; a refreshing change to some of the flight simulator hardware add-ons of late. If you regularly fly airplanes on your flight simulator that have push/pull controls, then the GF-TPM is a very good add-on to have. I would like to give the GF-TPM ten out of ten, but like one of my university professors once told me, he never gave a ten to anyone. I always thought at least one of my papers deserved a ten, and I guess GoFlight think the GF-TPM worthy of the same. I do not. I give it a nine for construction and operation, and an eight for price. The GF-TPM module retails for around the US$200 mark.
The fuel boost pump switch produces the same sickly sound as other software, but works well on the SECM. Other switches on the panel include; normal battery and alternator on/off, avionics, carburetor heat, pitot heat, all lights including indents, and strobes as well as navigation, beacon and taxi/landing lights. The switches are sturdy and operation-positive. This is a well made unit and should last many years under normal operation. I especially like the fact that they all work correctly every time they are selected. Additional aircraft switches include the undercarriage and flaps. These work well and quickly – no lag and both gear and flaps cycle well within the time usually taken by these systems. I added the Beechcraft B58 Baron after I installed the GoFlight software and detection was automatic with no further calibrations or assignments required – very cool.
The GF-SECM is constructed of the same sturdy powder coated materials as the TPM and the Mini-Rack. It, like the TPM stands two inches (50 mm) high and slots into the spare module bay of the minirack. It, too, is retained by the two stainless steel, “knurled collared” thumbscrews. This makes both installation and removal, a breeze. The look of the SECM is pleasing to the eye and the multicolored switches (see photo) make identification of the various aircraft functions easy. The colored plastic covers are removable and interchangeable to suit individual taste. The switching is positive with audible clicks. One look and you can see that GoFlight has made allowance for both older and modern magneto switching. I would have preferred the modern look as the default, but hey, having the option is excellent if one wants to fly older aircraft. The OFF-RIGHT-LEFT-BOTH-START key switches of a real world aircraft is initially displayed as OFF-LEFT-RIGHT-BOTH-START on the GF-SECM. To personalize, simply open the GoFlight Configurator and select the switching you want for a particular flight. Save the configuration and you will not have to bother with this again unless you fly an aircraft with different magneto switching.
GoFlight Single Engine Control Module (GF-SECM)
The addition of controls, such as the GF-SECM, do indeed make the flight simulator experience more enjoyable. After using these modules I do not think I can ever go back to clicking switches on a screen again! The controls are enjoyable to use and the switch panel is flawless in operation. Importantly, the module works with all good add-on aircraft, not just the default aircraft. Overall, I can give the GF-SECM a nine out of ten. GoFlight products are available from PC Aviator at www.pcaviator. com (USA), www.pcaviator.com.au (Australia) and other selected retailers.
Summary and Conclusions
Wings of Power 3:
Spitfire Mk I & II
BY HAROLD “FARMBOYZIM” ZIMMER
ince the release of the RealAir Simulations Spitfire, there has not been another serious attempt to model this aircraft for Flight Simulator X, and there was probably no reason to do so. After all, the RealAir model is very good in its own right. If anyone was going to match or beat that model (now several years old) it would be A2A Simulations, who specialize in older
aircraft add-ons for Microsoft Flight Simulator, with a special focus and interest on warbirds. Some of their more recent releases have been stunning, and with the Accusim expansions offered, have been in a league of their own in the realism stakes. Let’s see if this new Spitfire package can take the trophy for the best Spitfire model for Flight Simulator X.
Research on the Supermarine Spitfire began before the war, in 1934, with the first prototype taking to the air in 1936. Aeronautical engineer Reginald J. Mitchell had created numerous seaplanes including the Supermarine S.6B, a 1931 Schneider Cup winner, with a top speed of 339.82 mph. The prototype Spitfire was a small, all-metal single-seat fighter with retractable landing gear, excellent aerodynamic lines and the characteristic elliptical wings. A2A Simulations has provided us with an exceptional viewpoint of what it may have been like to fly these fighters. With WoP 3, the Supermarine Spitfire Mk I and Mk II, you get a chance to “Strap on a Spitfire”, as the pilots of this legendary aircraft would say. Utilizing a combination of superb aerodynamics and a power plant that consisted of a Rolls Royce Merlin engine (in fact, the same engine that it’s partner, the Hurricane used), R. J. Mitchell and his Supermarine development team produced one of the world’s most legendary fighters, the Spitfire. By the time war had broken out, a total of 1,960 Supermarine Spitfires had been ordered with 306 having been delivered. The Spitfire first saw action in the skies off the coast of Scotland on October 16th 1939 with Nos. 602 and 603 Squadrons defending against Luftwaffe bombers. Both units were successful in downing some of the German aircraft. By mid-1940, there were 19 squadrons operating the Mk I Spitfires. A very large number of these aircraft were lost to Luftwaffe fighters, namely the Messerschmitt Bf-109 (Me-109), Germany’s foremost fighter aircraft of the day. These great losses occurred while covering the withdrawal of troops from Dunkirk. Many experienced pilots were lost along with their aircraft, at a time when the threat of invasion loomed over Great Britain. So began the life of the Spitfire, an aircraft that would be produced for over ten years, with 22 variants developed. In all, over 20,400 aircraft would be produced, from the Mk I to the FR.Mk 47 and would continue to serve with various air forces around the world. It was not only a fighter but was developed to serve in the fighter/ bomber role, and as a reconnaissance platform. The naval version of the Spitfire, the Seafire FR.Mk 47 served with the Fleet Air Arm in the Korean War. Its duties consisted mainly of ground attack roles.
Setting the Scene… A Little Spitfire History
The Spitfire Mk I had to take on the Me109E during the Battle of Britain. Having pulled back all of the squadrons from France, Britain was able to field 19 squadrons to fight off the impending attack. By this time, most of the Mk Is had been upgraded with a 3-bladed, variable pitch propeller, replacing the fixed 2-bladed prop. They had also started to replace the canopies with a “blown hood” instead of the straight back canopy. This was done more to accommodate taller pilots than for better vision. The max speed of the Mk I was 346 mph at 15,500 feet, with a maximum range of 650 miles. It took about seven minutes to climb to 15,000 feet, and had a service ceiling of 30,500 feet. Armament consisted of eight Browning MkII .303 in. machine guns. Despite the introduction of the Mk II during the Battle of Britain, the Mk Is were still in use up to the end of the war as trainer aircraft and in secondary units. The evolution of the Spitfire kept pace with its principal adversaries, the Messerschmitt Me109 and the Focke Wulf Fw190. After the production of 1,583 Spitfire Mk Is, Great Britain began to produce the second version, the Mk II. This version went into service toward the end of 1940, during the Battle of Britain. Both the Mk IIa and IIb utilized a more powerful Rolls Royce engine, the Merlin XII, with 1,175 horsepower. The Mk IIa’s armament retained the eight machine guns, while the Mk IIb was outfitted with four machine guns and two 20mm cannons. One of the main features of the Spitfire, the elliptical wings provided not only room for all this armament, but also a broad, flat surface which induced drag in a tight turn. This design feature enabled the Spitfire pilot to win out in a turning fight over both the Me109 and the Fw190. Although the Fw190 could out-roll the Spitfire (the Spitfire’s engine would stall for a moment in negative G situations), no fighter could out turn the Spitfire. Those that tried went down in flames.
I have reviewed Wings of Power products in the past, so I was looking forward to the A2A’s Spitfire model. WoP products were excellent back when I reviewed earlier models, such as their Mustang pack and especially the bombers and jets of the WWII bundle. It was probably their products, the Mustang in particular, that enlightened me to the fact that I needed to learn a bit more about flying in the more “realistic” virtual world! I’m going to tell you all about how “realistic” these models can be later, but right now, let’s start from the downloading and installation of the Spitfire. I received a link for the download of this product. At time of writing, the package is only available as a download purchase – no boxed version yet exists. The file size is 150 Mb. After the download, it took about 6 minutes or so to install. I installed both the Spitfire model and the Accusim expansion for the model (there is a discount for buying the Accusim bundled with the Spitfire at some resellers’ stores). More on that fun little utility momentarily. Installation was smooth, and efficient, even detecting that I had FSX installed on an external hard drive. Double check your path though, just to make sure. Three different models, Mk Ia, Mk IIa (machine guns), and Mk IIb (cannons) are included in this product. The livery variations included are: • Mk Ia of No. 92 Squadron, May 1940 • Mk Ia of No. 603 Squadron, Aug 1940 • Mk IIa of the 71st “Eagle” Squadron • Mk IIb of No. 303 “Kosciuszko” (Polish) Squadron
The Simulated Spitfire from A2A Simulations
After firing up FSX and choosing one of the models to fly, I was surprised to find that the model displayed in the view box with no textures, would stop “spinning” on display, and then crash FSX. I uninstalled and reinstalled after a couple more attempts, but with the same results. I visited the A2A forum, the place for support and discussion of WoP products, and could not find anything on this issue. I sent off an email to the folks at A2A and was pointed back in the right direction in the forum for the solution. I had missed it the first time around (it was about 1:00am) and found the topic in the FAQ section. It’s always a good idea to carefully check the forums, as the answers are usually there. The problem I was having was due to the fact that my computer and system were older (gasp!) and that the high detail textures included would crash FSX. A patch was readily available to replace those textures with “medium” quality textures. This installation went smoothly as well. With FSX running, I held my breath as I chose the Spitfire model. There it was, with its “medium” quality textures, and showing quite well mind you. Problem solved. The “medium” textures, as you can see in the screenshots, are really quite detailed and beautifully done, so I don’t know how much “detail” I may be missing out on with my “antique” system, but what I can see is pretty darned good!
Documentation consists of a Pilot’s Manual, which is 99-pages long and in PDF format. This manual should be read, and is also an interesting compilation of information regarding the Spitfire. Beginning with Chapter 4, a Pilot’s Handbook is presented in a format that might have been used during the Battle of Britain. It is “fictional” but the information in it is not. If you are one of those folks that jump right in and take off, you may be in for a surprise if you have not at least reviewed the manual. Even experienced “simmers” might be taken by surprise by some of the “by the book” and realistic mannerisms of this model. There are graphics provided as well, of the cockpits and panels, with all controls and gauges labeled quite clearly. I found the manual to be both easy to read and highly informative. If you purchased the A2A Accusim extension of the product, then you are provided with a separate manual for this utility. This is also in PDF format, and is 79-pages long. The first part of the manual covers the basics of the aircraft engine and how it operates. The second part is dedicated to the use of the Accusim utility. The manual is well written and you’ll come away knowing a bit more about how these engines work, and why you should respect them! The instructions regarding the utility are easily followed, making the Accusim extension both realistic and far more entertaining.
The development team did an outstanding job creating the Spitfire model, replicating its graceful lines and unique wings to give you a very smooth, well made, realistic looking aircraft. The models’ well blended curves and lines of construction do absolute justice to the actual aircraft. One can tell that many hours were spent just in creating the base model. Textures that were created for this model are outstanding, even though I had to use the “medium” quality sets, as referenced earlier. Textures cover everything, literally, from the paint liveries, to how the propeller looks as it is spinning at varied RPMs, to the interior of the cockpit. The paint liveries themselves accurately depict realistic aircraft that were flown during World War II. I have noticed over the years that different development teams have certain styles, just like a painter who uses oil on canvas. The style that the WoP team has employed has been a rather unique one, creating textures that look almost ultra-realistic. I’ll let the screenshots speak for themselves on this point.
The cockpit interiors are one of many things that make this model stand out from the average payware package. Here again, nothing less than an artful approach is used to create the snug, comfy, well organized confines of the Spitfire cockpit. The detail seems to be endless when panning your view about inside. Knobs, levers, the “Spade” control stick, switches, etc. are all created in an exceptional manner, again contributing to the overall realistic feeling of being in the actual cockpit. Knobs and other such items may sound like small things, but if not well crafted, will stand out like a sore thumb. Interior views consist of the Virtual Cockpit view, which is what you should and need to fly out of, a map view that has a window for input of radio freqs and transponder codes, and a “no panel”, default view which consists of the basic six instruments.
There were no engine sounds while in modes other than the VC. It is worth noting that the Map View can also be accessed by clicking on the Map Case, on the left hand side of the cockpit. It is not the normal map view that is used in FSX, but rather one that depicts the area the pilot is flying in, and is used for visual references as well as showing airways, VORs, NDBs, Airports, etc. The panel gauges look authentic, in both night and day situations. There is smooth refresh of gauge functions as performance parameters change. Just about everything you see has a purpose and an actual use in the cockpit. There is one switch I do want to make you aware of and that is the Windshield De-Ice Switch located on the right hand side panel. The realism is so absolute with these models that if you change altitude too rapidly, you will experience fogging on the interior of the canopy, which makes for a blind flying situation. You could open your canopy to clear it if you are not too high, but use that de-ice switch!
Now’s a good time to mention the unique “Joystick Mapping Utility” that offers you the option to program commands that are not usually found in the FSX Mapping List to your controller. I found this extremely handy when it came to “hand-pumping” the landing gear lever in the Mk I model to raise and lower the gear.
The sound package is “professionally engineered”. To put it simply, the sounds are great and really get your head into the sim! From the smallest click of a switch to the bang of the starter cartridge going off, you’ll enjoy the sounds as much as the visual model. The engine sound package is superb. Animations include all the regular control surfaces, an animated pilot, excellent smoke and damage effects, the two-man “hold-down” team, and much more. There is an effect with this aircraft which I have not experienced in any other aircraft models. What happens to you if you fail to turn on your oxygen supply at 10,000 feet will be a surprise! All effects and animations are very detailed, smooth in movement and operation, and yet another “feather in the cap” for realism.
Sound Bytes and Effects
The folks at A2A state that their models can, and should be flown “by the book” because of their exceptionally realistic aerodynamics and controls. I found this statement more than accurate. I learned this with the P51 product a few years back, as that monster’s powerful engine pulled me right off the runway. At the start I knew that these models were not the typical simulation models that mimic just performance characteristics such as max speed, rates of climb, service ceilings, etc. These models represented, as close as possible, what the actual aircraft characteristics were, on the ground and in the air. In my opinion, they (A2A Simulations) have only gotten better at this science! The aerodynamics of the Spitfire model make this aircraft a pleasure to fly, once the little idiosyncrasies of the aircraft are figured out. Taxiing is one of these items that may take a bit of practice to master, balancing speed and handling, while trying not to overheat the engine, which is easily done. That’s where the Accusim extension comes in. Each time you fire up the Spitfire, wear and tear, improper procedures, and overstressing the engine and other works all add up and are tracked with this very easy to use utility. Various windows are called up when in the aircraft, to perform maintenance checks and to repair or replace items that need attention. A compression test can even be performed. Canopies can be swapped out here, as well as the type of propeller used, the two-blade or the three-blade. A window is also provided to do run up checks by calling in a two man crew to “hold” the tail down during run up, and to put the wheel chocks in place. With the Accusim extension, there is no hiding how your flying habits affect the aircraft, and it provides you with valuable, informative input on just what you’re doing to that aircraft. This extension is sold separately from the model, and can be purchased for other WoP aircraft as well.
Expanding with Accusim
To sum up, these models of the first two variants of the Spitfire are simply outstanding. Wings of Power has delivered yet another way to experience legendary aircraft of the past in an extremely realistic way, with attention to detail in areas of the model that you just don’t see in some products. Other than the initial problem (my own fault) of textures not appearing, this aircraft is outstanding, with very decent frame rates on my older system. FSX settings were at about medium on my sim, with no air, land, or sea traffic turned on. I highly recommend this product for any collector of warbirds, and also for both the experienced and new simmer. It has a lot to offer to both. The price of this package is more than fair, in my opinion. For $29.99 USD, you will receive the Spitfire model itself. It is only available for FSX. If you choose to purchase the Accusim Expansion you can take advantage of a special “bundled price”. I recommend the it if you want to get a full 100% “realism factor” with the simulation. For more information, and to watch a video of the Spitfire model, go to www.a2asimulations.com. The package can also be purchased from selected download resellers, including PC Aviator at www.pcaviator.com (USA) or www.pcaviator.com.au (Australia). Have a great flight! “Farmboyzim”
BY DR JOHN LATTANZIO
he Cessna 340 is an updated variant of the 310, designed for high and fast flying, and it even looks fast! It’s a lovely pressurized aircraft for flying above the weather, seating 5 passengers and a pilot. (or 4 passengers and a pilot and co-pilot in commercial operations). It was in production from 1970 to 1984, and Carenado have delivered a very nice, if flawed, version for FSX. How Carenado frustrate me…
THE FLIGHT DECK IS WELL CRAFTED
TYPICAL CESSNA TWIN STYLE
SLEEK LINES AS SEEN
FROM THE NOSE
First of all, lets look at the plane. Its great! Carenado do a very nice job of external and internal visuals. There is no 2D panel but there are many cockpit views defined so you can achieve everything from the VC either directly or by flicking to other cockpit views if you prefer. So for those who like a 2D panel (dinosaurs, like myself), worry not, you will find this aircraft is fine. But the visuals themselves are beautiful – I hope the screenshots do the aircraft justice. The VC is a delight and the passenger compartment is nicely modeled, with a pre-defined view from the rear seat. Moving around this cabin is lot of fun and it looks just great from all angles. The original aircraft comes with only 5 liveries, and they are all okay but not very exciting, to my eyes. The beige one is surprisingly nice. But I found a really snazzy paintjob on the web by Frank Cooper at AussieX.org – for aircraft N340SV and it looks just beautiful. I highly recommend you install that variant. The aircraft has most of the things you expect from a first class model for FSX. There is a complete de-icing system and wing lights for you to see the ice buildup (but no visual of it, as far as I know). There is a Jeppesen EDM760 for monitoring the exhaust and cylinder head temperature for each of the six cylinders in each engine. It has no controls, but it does look nice. The pressurization has to be set (well, not really!) and seems to work realistically. In terms of navigation we get two Garmin GNS430s, one ADF and a weather radar…which doesn’t seem to work. The autopilot is fairly basic – it will hold a heading and altitude or follow a VOR or an approach or backcourse. For vertical navigation you control the elevator and hence climb rate with an “up” and “down” rocker switch. You have to ride this manually and then hit the ALT button when you reach the desired altitude. And you need to do this in combination with the throttle of course – as I said, it’s a basic autopilot, but that is fine as you really want to fly this plane anyway. It’s not an airliner!
IS THAT LEATHER UPHOLSTERY AND WOOD PANELLING?
NO LACK OF DETAIL HERE
TWIN ENGINE MANAGEMENT REQUIRED
I do not fly real planes so I cannot say how realistic the flight model is. It seems to leap into the air and to glide down the runway when trying to land. Flare gently or you will be on your way back into the wild blue yonder at a significant rate of knots! I noticed that other people have commented on this as well. But I simply refuse to believe that a company like Carenado would not have the flight dynamics right. When I purchase an aircraft like this I expect they have put the effort into getting it reasonably correct. So if it feels different to me, I assume it is the aircraft. Maybe I am naïve, but that is what I expect. The lighting in this aircraft is very good, with a courtesy light as well as instrument lights. Both looked great at night. There is also an animation of the landing lights when they are lowered or raised. And when stopped on the ground you can see the chocks, pitot covers etc. But be warned – you need to have not only the parking brake ON, but also both batteries OFF, and both alternators OFF. This seems to be a Carenado standard.
So, I had many enjoyable hours with this plane and it reminded me a lot of the Digital Aviation Piper Cheyenne. Both are lovely planes and I guess both are competitors for your money if you are after a pressurized twin that moves along at a fair rate of speed. I found that the DA plane caused me a lot of memory problems, but I had none with the Carenado C340. However, I noted that there were people at the forum that did have memory issues so I would not draw too many conclusions from my experience for either aircraft. There are so many variables that it’s very hard to generalize when dealing with these obscure errors. Yes, overall, I liked this aircraft a lot and I enjoyed my time flying it. Now for the rant! So why did I say that Carenado frustrate me? Well, let’s start with the documentation – or lack of it. We get the following: • • • • • A single page showing the location of instruments on the VC 3 pages of instructions for the weather radar (which doesn’t work!) A 3 page user guide for the GNS430 A 1 page summary of important speeds, from the checklist A 38 page booklet of normal and emergency procedures, which is a collection of checklists and graphs • And most importantly, a single page on copyright issues!
What we need is something that tells us how to fly the plane! Sure, the checklists nearly do that. But how do we read the EDM760? I went to the web and looked it up. I discovered that the simulated version has no user controls, and the real one does. I was trying to use it to lean the engines. The reason for this is that the analog EGT instrument does not work at all. It’s a fixed image as far as I can tell. If you hover the mouse over it you will get an instantaneous reading of the EGT (if tool tips is on). This is not good enough – the instrument should work! There is no way to move the bug on the instrument, but since it does nothing you don’t need to move it. Sounds are generally good but in the VC it’s almost silent. If you turn up the volume you will get blown out of your seat when you go to another view! The cowl flaps are reversed – they are open when the instrument says closed and vice versa. I think the fuel system is fishy – there is a switch above the fuel display labeled man/auto which seems to switch the display between displaying the main and aux fuel tanks! The VC image says that switch controls the auxiliary fuel pumps! Certainly, a light illuminates when you turn it on, although it then displays the fuel level in the other tank! What a mess! The altimeter reads 0 at 10,000 feet. In fact, the 10,000 foot digit does not flick over properly at each value. Well, to me those are too many bugs for a program to be released. I went to the Carenado website. No mention there of any patches or fixes. They have a “knowledge base:” but there is no section for the C340. I did get directed from there to an avsim forum dedicated to the C340. That referred to a patch. The forum is full of people asking if Carenado read the forum. Clearly they do, as they respond to problems, but only occasionally and very infrequently. I went back to the website and emailed asking about the patch (the link on the forum was broken). No reply by the time I had to send this review to the magazine. I think the latest download (which I am using) has the patch, since one of the complaints was the size of the digits on the altimeter tape, and in my version they are bigger than the pictures in the forum. But that only deepens the mystery – why are there still so many bugs in the version I have? The forum is full of people complaining about little bugs like the ones I have mentioned. Many have not been able to get the weather radar to work – myself included. This is so frustrating! I sympathize with the person who posted: “Why is it that whenever I REALLY like a plane it gives me so much trouble?” And so it goes. This is a great plane, it feels great and it looks great. But it desperately needs someone at Carenado to take control and show the product the respect it deserves. And write some documentation for it. I have said this before and clearly Carenado don’t care what I think. Which is fair enough. They have a reputation for great planes, so maybe most people are happy with the lack of documentation and a list of (admittedly minor) bugs as long as your arm. I just don’t understand how they can do such a good job and not finish it and document it. C’mon Carenado – how about that little bit of extra effort? The Carenado C340II is a very good plane, despite its shortcomings.
THE PASSENGER’S VIE WPOINT
HORTON’S HINTS for FLIGHTsimX
BY DOUG HORTON
his version of Hints focuses on overcoming “mission shyness”, description of an update to Plan-G, with its moving map and other features, and information on a new, free website for displaying aviation charts and other maps. We’ll lead off with how to learn more about FSX missions with a website that’s inspired me to complete more missions and gain more mission rewards. Overcoming FSX “Mission Shyness”
Are you “mission shy?” Are you hesitant to ﬂy missions because you’re unsure about what you’ll encounter? I admit that I have been, until I found a great source of information online. The mission information provided by FSX on the Overview, Details, and Maps & Charts tabs is not fully descriptive of what might be encountered on missions. Yes, that may add to the surprise factor, but it may also cause users to be hesitant to ﬂy missions, or when a surprise occurs during a mission, the lack of a full description may leave users wondering what to do. 46 CPM. V15I3
A great example is provided by the Catalina Day Spa mission. It’s an Advanced mission and I’d shied away from trying it because of its classiﬁcation. From the Overview and Details tabs for this mission I learned that it involves ﬂying the Cessna Grand Caravan C208 from Catalina Island to Santa Monica airport. Sounds simple, but if it’s rated Advanced, there’s likely an interesting turn of events, so I was “mission shy” and I’d never tried it.
I was browsing “mission rewards” for another purpose when I discovered a website that tamed my mission shyness and led to a renewed interest in ﬂying FSX missions. On the surface, www. FSXRewards.com provides information and illustrations of all available rewards for all missions in FSX Deluxe and the Acceleration Pack. From the FSXRewards home page, you can navigate to a listing of mission titles, each of which is a hyperlink to a speciﬁc page for that mission. Each page then provides a description of the mission and its available reward, or in the example, two possible rewards, one of which is not documented in FSX. Signiﬁcantly, the FSX Rewards website provides much more information than simply showing the rewards. For example, in the Catalina Day Spa mission, the website shows there are actually two possible rewards: Problem Solver and Homeland Security Investigation Photo. Following those links provides insights not provided on the mission information tabs, particularly for the second reward. Following either reward link, we learn that it’s useful to know the function of the Shift+7 key command after the engine fails during the ﬂight. Hmm, that’s likely related to the mid-ﬂight surprise!
MISSIONTABS.JPG INFORMATION TABS FOR CATALINA DAY SPA ADVANCED MISSION
CLICKING BOLDFACE POSSIBLE REWARDS HYPERLINKS WILL PROVIDE VALUABLE TIPS
We also learn that the second reward is provided for landing on a nearby aircraft carrier. This is a particularly valuable tip because it’s not mentioned on the FSX mission information tabs and it’s not mentioned by the mission audio. In fact, if you approach the carrier, audio prompts warn you not to land on the carrier, but if you do, you’ll earn the second award, and you can earn the reward even if you land on the carrier after restarting the engine. Here’s another hint from my trying this mission: Though the FSX Reward website suggests “crash-landing” on the carrier, to keep from going overboard, I successfully landed with the parking brakes set, and the Cessna Grand Caravan quickly came to a stop without crashing or going overboard, though in the real world, this practice would likely lead to tire damage or blowouts. One more tip: remember that you can save mission ﬂights intermittently and return to the saved mission state when you resume the ﬂight. This is particularly valuable in the example cited above, in which I saved the mission on ﬁnal approach to landing on the carrier. I was then able to make multiple approaches to the carrier until I was successful, without restarting the mission each time. To see saved ﬂights on the mission interface, you’ll need to check the box for Show Saved Missions. The accompanying image shows, in blue type, incremental saved ﬂights for two of my favorite missions: Amazon Trek and Tokyo Executive Transport. 47
FSXREWARDS LISTING OF HYPERLINKS TO ALL MISSIONS IN THE DELUXE VERSION
the ﬂy” during ﬂight planning. Plan-G runs as a web-style application using its own built-in Internet Explorer browser. Compatible with both FSX and FS2004, you can run Plan-G in a window on top of Flight Simulator or on a separate monitor. Try it, at http://www.tasoftware.co.uk/, and you’ll like it!
MISSION SUCCESS AFTER LANDING CESSNA GRAND CARAVAN ON CARRIER FOR ALTERNATE MISSION ENDING
SAMPLE PLAN-G INTERFACE SHOWING ROUND ROBIN FLIGHT PLAN ON TERRAIN MAP
I’m glad to see that Plan-G developer Tim Arnot of TA Software has continued to update this product. According to his website, new in version 2 are the following features: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • New Airport viewer New Approach viewer Add Approach to ﬂight plan Display Victor airways Weather reports without FS connection Relative wind display New enhanced native “.PLG” ﬁle format with support for cross-references, passing altitudes, notes, approaches etc Sample ﬂight plans Sharable bookmarks Display KML/KMZ ﬁles – to overlay geographic data to an Earth browser such as Google Earth or Google Maps New Quick Planner Route Copy to clipboard for VAs, VATSIM, etc. Water runways display Detachable tool windows for expander panels Actual times recorded (local or zulu), which can be printed on pilot logs Spot elevations (with optional DEM installed) Move Aircraft to Here function Many additional user interface enhancements
FSX MISSION INTERFACE SHOWING SAVED INTERIM-MISSION FLIGHTS FOR TWO FAVORITE MISSIONS
If you’ve purchased and installed FSUIPC from notable developer Pete Dowson, at http://www.schiratti.com/dowson.html, you can activate a great feature for auto-saving ﬂights. With my settings, FSUIPC saves and retains the last 20 auto-saved ﬂights, at one minute intervals, including during missions. Be aware, however, that autosaved ﬂights are overwritten by newer auto-saved ﬂights, so if you wish to permanently save interim mission ﬂights, press the semicolon key to name and save them in the usual manner.
Two issues ago, I highlighted the elaborate Plan-G freeware moving map and ﬂight planning program in my Hints column. In case you missed reading that topic, Plan-G is the ﬁrst Flight Simulator planning software tool to use Google Maps. Previously, the builtin FSX planner and third party ﬂight planners have extrapolated geographic data from FS, with various limitations. Now, any geographical feature which exists in the vast world of Google Maps can be included in FS ﬂight plans. Plan-G adds overlays to Google Maps pertinent to ﬂight planning: airports, controlled airspace, prohibited and restricted areas, and instrument approach paths, for example. Flight Plans can be graphically modiﬁed – adding, deleting or dragging waypoints to new positions with the mouse. User deﬁned waypoints can be created “on 48
The recently launched www.VFRmap.com is another online source of freely viewed cycle-current VFR and IFR charts, as well as airport facility directory data. After entering an airport name or alphabetical letters in the search box, press Enter and a chart will appear, which will be centered on the selected airport. You can scroll horizontally in any direction and zoom in or out on the charts. You also can select from a pull-down menu any of ﬁve types of U.S. aviation charts, or three types of Google maps to display: CPM. V15I3
• Hybrid VFR – a combination of world aeronautical, sectional, and terminal area charts • VFR sectional charts • World aeronautical charts (WAC) • IFR en route high altitude charts • Low IFR – a combination of IFR en route low-altitude charts and IFR area charts • Road map • Satellite map • Terrain map You can’t draw a course or track on these charts, but the site is a quick and easy reference for a variety of uses. It works for all U.S. and some Canadian airports, for searches using airport names, or either IATA or ICAO codes. Want to see what an airport looks like from overhead? Try Satellite view.
One other interesting feature is that clicking the small red dot on an airport causes a popup box to appear with a complete airport and facilities data description, such as shown for KASE.
VFRMAP .COM DISPLAY OF AIRPORT AND FACILITIES DATA FOR KASE
VFRmap.com is a work in progress, and according to VFRmap. com publisher Digital Aviation LLC, “The UI is fairly spartan at the moment, but we plan on adding more features over time, starting with real-time weather updates and instrument approach plates.”
VANCOUVER, BC, CANADA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT CYVR ON VFRMAP SATELLITE MAP BACKGROUND
Sleepy Yoke and Pedals?
I’ve been dealing with this problem ever since I transitioned from Vista to Windows 7 on two ﬂight simulation computers. Let’s say I have FSX open, with fully functioning yoke and pedals, connected with their USB cables. I sleep the computer, return to FSX, and neither yoke nor pedals operate. Previously, I found that if I unplug and reconnect the USB cables, Window 7 would again recognize these controls. Here is a solution I found online that MAY correct this problem, as recommended by CH Products Technical Support:
Want to see the geographical features surrounding an airport? Try Terrain view.
1. On the Windows 7 Start menu, select Control Panel. 2. Select Power Options 3. Select Plan Settings for currently selected plan. 4. Select Change Advanced Plan Settings 5. Click plus sign to expand USB Settings 6. Click plus sign to expend USB Selective Suspend Setting 7. Change setting from Enabled to Disabled. 8. Click Okay and close as needed. Note that I said this settings change MAY correct the problem, as several times since I made this change in settings, I still occasionally experience “sleepy” yoke and pedals. If anyone knows how to permanently ﬁx this issue with CH Products yoke and pedals operating with Windows 7, please let other readers know by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org and asking to forward to my attention. 49
VFRMAP .COM VIEW OF ASPEN-PITKIN COUNTY AIRPORT, COLORADO KASE ON TERRAIN MAP
“ENTERING THE FRAY” SCREENSHOT BY DEAN BIELANOWSKI
FTX ORCAS ISLAND SCENERY
BY ROGER CURTISS
ORS is the identifier for the Orcas Island airport. It is not an acronym for Orbx Realistic Scenery…although one could be excused for thinking that to be the case.
Orbx has been making a name for themselves in scenery with unparalleled treatment of the Australian continent and lately have extended their reach to begin to include North America. Their first choice was the Pacific Northwest with FTX North America Blue PNW (reviewed in Computer Pilot Vol. 14 Issue 5) and have produced renditions of a few small airports in Washington state to complement that offering. So, imagine my delight to see that the latest airport so selected was KORS in the town of Eastsound on the island where I happen to reside.
Orcas’ KORS would not seem to necessarily be a standout choice for a detailed airport portrayal. It is actually a rather unremarkable airport; a single 2900 x 60 foot runway, one main taxiway, a small terminal building and a few hangars. The biggest aircraft to use the airport are Kenmore Air and FedEx Cessna C208 Caravans on their daily flights. The statistics for the airport indicate a 2008 average of 143 operations per day, but that has to be an anomaly as I spend a significant amount of time in the vicinity and usually see about 20% of that number of takeoffs and landings. But there is more to an airport than its size or activity level and it so happens that KORS is located at the north end of an island that offers spectacular vistas- Mt. Constitution, at 2400’ the highest peak in the islands, varied terrain and the numerous islands of the area as well as the Olympic Mountains and Cascades to the southwest and southeast respectively. It is a wonderful environment to explore in a slow aircraft and the Eastsound airport is a fine, homey base.
The scenery is available for FSX either as a 1GB download or on DVD. Orbx states clearly upfront that MS.net Framework v3.5 must be installed on the recipient computer in order for the scenery to work. While it is possible to use KORS as stand-alone scenery, Orbx highly recommends that the PNW scenery be in place as well. Without PNW there will be limitations in lighting details, no moving traffic, no Orbx- modified autogen houses, trees and objects, and the airport scenery will not integrate seamlessly with the surrounding terrain. Additionally, the FTX Central application to customize the scenery will not be present. I initially installed KORS as stand-alone but FSX would crash every time I tried to use the scenery. Orbx support offered that this could occur if I had any other add-on scenery for the area. Such was not the case and I elected to install PNW, after which there was no problem at all. The day I downloaded the scenery I went out to the airport and took a walk around- one of the advantages of a small airport is that you can still do just that- noting some of the small details of the buildings and grounds. I then went home and started up FSX. To put it bluntly, I was blown away by the accuracy of the scenery and the incredible attention to detail. Airport buildings were configured exactly right showing rust and weathering. Practically every sign on the airport property is reproduced right down to the Deer Guard caution sign at the driveway entrance. The aircraft movement areas, rental hangars, and even the number and placement of transient aircraft tiedown spots were flawless. Equally impressive is the rendering of buildings in the area that are not even associated with the airport. A small office park to the west, the fire station immediately south and even some county offices a block or two away are dead on, which is a testament to Orbx as few people would know (or care?) if these details were totally accurate. Along with the visual delights, auditory enhancements are also available courtesy of an Audio Sound Pack. There are 7 locations at the airport where specialized sound loops provide background ambience and these can be activated/deactivated via the KORS Control Panel. That panel also can be used to disable some scenery features if needed for performance or aesthetic preferences. One additional control is FTX Aero that allows selection of a small variety of detail bmp and taxiway markings. As with their other scenery products, Orbx includes a PDF user’s guide that explains a bit of the island’s history and provides suggested parameters for FSX settings, sliders and scenery tabs. These are described as a good starting point to achieve acceptable frame rates on medium-performance computers and users are invited to try incremental increases if they feel their systems have the horsepower to handle them. The bottom line on this scenery is that it is fantastic. This is my first Orbx airport scenery but based on what I have seen, I would have to say that one cannot go wrong in obtaining any scenery under the FTX banner. I know I keep saying it but the level of detail is absolutely amazing. Depending on where you live, it may be awhile before the FTX magic is applied to your home airport but if and when your favorite is rendered you owe it to yourself to add it to your scenery. I simply cannot imagine a more immersive virtual experience. Orbx KORS can be yours for US$34.95. Check your favorite flight sim retailer for availability.
THAT IS THE FEDEX OFFICE. IT IS OPEN FOR 30 MINUTES A DAY
AIRSIDE AT THE TERMINAL. I HAVE STOOD THERE A FEW TIMES MYSELF
EVEN THE PHONE NUMBER ON THE DUMPSTER IS ACCURATE
NORTH END OF TAXIWAY A. NOTE THE TEXTURING IN THE ASPHALT
FSX REAL WEATHER INTERFACE, SHOWING WIND FROM 266° AT 10 KNOTS
YOU CAN’T SEE IT BUT MY HOUSE IS AMONGST THOSE TREES
Saitek ProFlight Modules
BY DEAN BIELANOWSKI AND GENE DAVIS
aitek in recent years have started producing their own line of panel modules in an aim to grab some of the market away from the likes of GoFlight Inc, who manufacture specific panel modules for Flight Simulator users at reasonable prices. We are big fans of the GoFlight gear at Computer Pilot, and we have held off
reviewing the Saitek line for some time as we wanted to see if the line would further expand and continue moving forward. With the release of the Saitek TPM and backlit panel modules, we now believe this to be the case, and here we are with our review of the Saitek ProFlight panel system!
Initially, I had assigned Gene Davis to complete a mini-review of the Saitek ProFlight Switch Panel, but given that the system now incorporates six panel style modules, it is prudent to take a look at them all. The complete line of Saitek ProFlight panel products to date are as follows: • ProFlight Switch Panel • ProFlight Radio Panel • ProFlight Multi Panel • ProFlight Instrument Panel • ProFlight Backlit Information Panel • Proflight Throttle/Prop/Mixture Control Panel Saitek also offer other ProFlight line items including the ProFlight Yoke System, ProFlight Combat Rudder Pedals, a separate three-axis ProFlight Throttle Quadrant, and the ProFlight Aviation Headset. I will review the above panels separately for ease of reference later on, but will start with describing the features common to them all.
As mentioned previously, the ProFlight Panel line of control modules is designed to provide a less expensive alternative to other similar products in the market. Like other existing and similar product lines, the ProFlight line is modular, allowing you to add modules one by one if your budget doesn’t stretch to buying them all at once. Each module offers plug and play USB connection, however, setup/driver software must also be installed to allow each panel to function. The Radio Panel, Multi-Panel and Switch Panel come with basic test software, while the backlit panel has its own setup and config software. Because the panels work on the standard set of key combinations/assignments for functions in Flight Simulator X, not every 3rd-party aircraft in FS will function 100% with these panel modules. Only those aircraft that share the same default FSX assignments or code for functions controlled by these panels will be 100% compatible with the Saitek line. So, like GoFlight and other control modules, there are some limitations that must be considered. In general a larger percentage of aftermarket or 3rd party aircraft add-ons will be compatible than those that will not be. Aircraft like the PMDG lines tend to use their own internal code to control and display important variables like navigation and radio, and as such, compatibility of the Saitek panels with these aircraft are likely to be limited. Note that all panels are compatible with Flight Simulator X. Some may be compatible with FS2004 however the use of Peter Dowson’s FSUIPC software module is required for these panels to work in FS2004. There have been some known issues running the panels in FS2004 and others may not work at all. I didn’t test these panels in the older sim version, only in FSX. I will only mention FSX compatibility here to keep things simple and as accurate as possible. Panels are compatible with Windows 7 (32/64), Windows XP and Windows Vista (32/64). Each panel in the line has mostly plastic construction in terms of the panel enclosure/body. Some dial knobs on specific models are metal construction but these will be noted in each separate mini-review below. In general, construction is not too bad, but it is evident that these modules are made to a pricepoint, but in some cases, the product is the best available at this present time in the market. A nice feature across the line is the ability to mount all these panels to each other in one way or another. There are plenty of pre-tapped threaded screw holes to “stack” the modules on top of each other in numerous configurations. Additionally, the panel can be removed from its enclosure and directly mounted to an existing cockpit frame or wooden panel structure too if desired (you need to supply your own wood screws however).
The Saitek ProFlight Panel Module Line
Another item to consider is the size of the panels. The Saitek panels are generally larger than other panel products on the market. Some are more realistically sized to their real world counterparts, while others are in fact oversize compared to the real thing. This can be good, and bad. It certainly can eat up flight deck panel or desk real estate in a hurry, but the units can be easier to operate as functions and panels are not all crammed into a tiny space. Horses for courses I guess!
The landing gear lever features 3 LED indicator lights that indicate when the gear is up or down and are color coded red for up and green for down. Another nice feature with the indicator lights is that if you are flying a plane like the DC-3, only two of the lights will function and if you are flying a plane like the 737 all three will be lit. For aircraft with fixed gear the lever and lights default to off. Over time I have noticed that if you damage a particular gear on takeoff or if it just fails the lights will indicate that failure also. Since I have had the panel I have had little or no issues with it and it usually worked likes its supposed to, but I did find that occasionally (since I went to Windows 7) I will have problems with the panel loading when FSX starts up and it requires me to unplug the unit and then plug it back in or to exit out of FSX and re-launch to get it to work properly, this was never an issue when I used to run it under Windows Vista or XP however? Perhaps it is a function or bug in the way Windows 7 handles USB ports, or perhaps the power management issue in Windows is causing problems? The other thing to know is that this panel does not work with all aircraft in FSX as your more complex planes will not allow the lighting functions to be manipulated through the panel and it is really just trial and error to figure out which ones are fully compatible, and which are not. I have found that the gear lever works in just about all of them and to be honest that is the main reason I bought the panel. It would have been nice is the gear lever was a little longer though. It is short and stubby and you can’t really “grab” the lever with an enclosed fist, it is more of a two or three finger task.
Since each module or panel has its own USB cord for connection, you will require one free USB port on your system to attach each hardware item to. USB hubs are a popular way to expand the number of USB ports available on your system, but do be aware that you should use powered USB hubs over non-powered ones. These panels also draw their power from the USB connection, and if you hook up too many of them to a non-powered hub, some of them will likely not function as not enough power can be transferred via the single USB port powering the hub. So if you are buying a USB hub for this purpose (and the same goes for many USB controllers too) be sure to buy one that can be self-powered by a mains electrical cord or power box. Non-powered hubs are really only useful for those devices that are only used on occasion and not at the same time, like printers for example. Let’s look at each Saitek module now in more detail.
A Note on USB Hubs
Saitek ProFlight Switch Panel Review by Gene Davis
The panel itself features 13 different plastic switches, a plastic gear lever with three LED lights and a magneto switch. The switches cover functions such as lighting, batteries, cowl flaps, pitot heat and de-ice functions and each is clearly labeled for quick access. The magneto switch is one like you might find in a Cessna 172 or similar and allows setting for Left, Right, Both/All, and START positions via a plastic control knob. Each setting clicks into place quite positively and firmly.
I have come to really like the Switch Panel in FSX because it offers functionality outside of the virtual cockpit and means I don’t have to hunt for keys on a keyboard or switches with the mouse while I am trying to make an approach; I can simply reach down, flip the switch or pull the lever for the landing gear making my flight in FSX feel more realistic. Setup with the panel is simple as it uses a USB connection that can either be plugged into your PC or into the built-in USB hub on the Saitek Flight Yoke, if you have one. Mounting the panel is also relatively easy as it allows for attachment to either the Saitek Flight Yoke or to the base of the Saitek Throttle Quadrant products with its included mounting screws. If by chance you wish to mount it to a desk or other type of surface that can be easily done as well. of course is to buy multiple panels to assign and control each radio function, eliminating the need to switch radio modes, but that can be expensive. Controlling radio mode via the knob on the left is easy to do. It is hard to make a mistake or switch past the next available mode setting because the knob is stiff and locks into each setting very positively - almost too positively, in my opinion. If you have arthritis in the hands, using this dial is going to be difficult. Moving to the right of the displays is like entering another world! The control knobs here which change the value of each radio setting are actually metal construction with knurled grip surfaces. There are two dials stacked on top of each other for each radio display. One controls the primary frequency value, and the other the secondary (or decimal) value. Rotating each knob clockwise increases the value, while rotating anti-clockwise decreases it. Unlike the stiff mode setting dials, these freely and easily rotate. There are “click spot” positions evident as you turn each dial, but these are much less noticeable and certainly not as positive or precise. They do work fine of course to control frequency changing, but it does appear to be a common user complaint that these knobs in particular are too loose, so fine control of frequency can be an issue at times. On the right side of the panel are the frequency switching buttons. This is a simple push click button which will move your standby frequency to active, or your active to standby. They work fine and I have had no trouble at all with them. When one of your radios is set to use the XPDR mode, these buttons double up as the means by which to change the XPDR frequency digit being changed by the dials.
Saitek ProFlight Radio Panel Review by Dean Bielanowski
The radio panel is a popular addition to the Saitek line and it will work with any aircraft add-on that uses the default radio stack coding in Flight Simulator. Its biggest asset is the twin LED readouts, which allow two radios to be operated and controlled at once, each offering a display for both the active and standby frequencies used for radio functions. On the left side of the panel are plastic selector knobs which allow you to use each radio for any of the following radio functions: COM1; COM2; NAV1; NAV2; ADF; DME; XPDR. You can set each display for any of those functions at any time and the panel will read out the current “value” for that radio frequency. Of course, any changes made to that value using the Radio Panel will also be instantly reflected in your Flight Simulator. The availability of the radio options make this panel quite flexible, and it means one panel can be used to control most all radio functions (assuming you don’t mind switching between them constantly). The other option
Overall, the only issue seems to be with the frequency change knobs as mentioned above being a little too loose. They do work, although I think if they were a little “tighter” in their operation, then this radio panel would be difficult to fault.
Saitek ProFlight Multi-Panel Review by Dean Bielanowski
Another popular item in the lineup is the Multi-Panel. As it names suggests, it offers multiple features but is based mostly around Autopilot functions. The selector knob on the left is similar to those on the Radio panel. It is very stiff and can be difficult to move, but it certainly will not move out of position once you get it where you want it. The dial is used on this panel to switch between the autopilot functions of Altitude, Vertical Speed, Indicated Air Speed, Heading and Course. The two-line LED display is large, bright and easy to read. Again we have the metal adjustment knob to the right of the display, although on this unit, it is all one functional piece. On the unit I tested, this knob seemed to be a little stiffer and more precise than on the Radio Panel. To the right of this is a metal Autothrottle toggle switch to ARM or turn OFF the A/T function. Underneath is a twoposition FLAPS control bar for moving flaps UP or DOWN. To the right of this is a pitch trim wheel. This wheel moves very smoothly and is a joy to use in Flight Simulator. Moving back to the display. Just underneath this are your Autopilot function buttons. You have a main AutoPilot ON/OFF button (glows white), as well as buttons for switching ON and OFF the Heading hold, NAV hold, IAS hold, Altitude hold, Vertical Speed hold, Approach hold and Reverse (BackCourse) – these glow orange when active. These work as you would expect. The pasnel is even intelligent enough to disallow activation of the IAS hold switch if the Autothrottle toggle switch is not set to ARM. In use the Multi-panel for the most part works well. Again, you have to use a compatible aircraft for it to be fully functional. There has been some discussion on the adjustment knob not allowing you to change variable values quickly enough. I have found that if you try and turn this knob too fast, the values actually change a lot slower.
Turn it carefully and more slowly and the values actually change faster. Adjusting trim via the Trim wheel is precise and accurate with good resistance in the wheel to allow fine control. The quandary with the Multi-Panel is that it does seem geared toward airliner flying because of its autopilot, but some of the best airliner add-ons on the market are not supported with its use as those add-ons employ their own autopilot systems that the Multi Panel cannot decipher. If you are happy flying the default airliners or any add-on that uses the default Microsoft autopilot system, then you will find value in this product.
Saitek TPM Module Review by Dean Bielanowski
This is Saitek’s newest panel offering (at time of writing) and arguably Saitek’s best product in the line in terms of build quality and functional, realistic use. Most notable about this item is its size. It is quite large, and much larger than GoFlight’s TPM module which some users have found to be too small to “feel real” in use. The box the TPM ships in is about three times the size of any of the panel module boxes, and when you pull the TPM from its packaging, you do get that instant feel of quality. It is probably because the unit looks a little beefy and weighs a fair bit more than the other modules. The actual faceplate/panel size is the same as the other panel products, but those chunky throttle, prop and mixture controls extend out from the face and the large toggle switches appear to be itching to be pressed! The TPM will also generally be more compatible with many small aircraft add-ons as most use the standard FS control code when it comes to engine, mixture and prop pitch axis function.
This module comes with clamps similar to those supplied with the ProFlight yoke to allow you to clamp it to a desk. You will need to clamp it to something, in some way, because the action of pulling and pushing on the control knobs will move the unit around if unsupported or not held tight to a surface. Each control knob has about a 3” range so there is plenty of movement available along each slide axis for finer engine control. Each slider features a realistically shaped and color coded control knob that mimics real world TPM controls as found on many small aircraft types. In the dark, you can readily determine which control you are accessing by feeling the shape of the control knob. As mentioned previously, these control knobs are large and easy and comfortable to use. They do look a little “toy like” in appearance, probably because they are colored plastic after all, but the actual slide tube mechanism of each of the three axis is of metal tube construction for accuracy and virtually zero flex. The glide of each of the three control slides is very smooth, and there is just enough resistance to make it believable. On the right side of the module is a bank of nine large toggle switches. Each of these can be programmed for a particular button function in your flight simulator – but best reserved for those functions that have an ON/OFF pair. The switches themselves are large in size which is great but the flip side is that if a toggle switch is in the down position, and the one below it is in the up position, there is very little room to get your finger underneath the top switch to flick it back up. The toggle switches could have been spaced a little further apart, but given the fact that there really isn’t room for this on the faceplate, perhaps slightly smaller switches should have been used. The same issue goes for the lower row of switches – not much room underneath between the switch arm and the desk when the switch is in the down position. If you have skinny fingers, you won’t have a problem. For anyone else, it may be an issue, and although minor I guess, it is noticeable enough to make it worth mentioning. Apart from the toggle switch niggle, I do like this TPM unit. I had no technical issues with it working in Flight Simulator X or 2004 and it does indeed provide the best small aircraft engine management option in a hardware panel currently available for the price. Out of the box, you might think that Saitek forgot to add anything to this panel. The dark, glass-like flat screen of the backlit information panel is designed to light up the various warning sign tiles that lie underneath. It mimics the status/information panels found on various real world aircraft, ranging from medium turboprops, right up to large airliners. The panel ships with a little over 50 different panel tiles covering important warning messages, like ENG FIRE, OIL PRESSURE, GEAR DOWN, BEACON LIGHT and many others. There are 24 segments that can be each individually lit on the panel . The provided software allows the user to configure the panel and assign the correct display function for the tile used in that position on the panel. Again, it is limited to what FSX provides by default in terms of warning panel options and its relevant code, but the panel itself would certainly make a nice addition to a home flight deck. The best part of this panel is the ease of configuration. With the provided software you are presented with a representation of the backlit panel on screen, as well as icons that display each of the 50 or so possible tiles you can use on the panel. All you need to do is click on the relevant warning tile from the bank of those available and drag and drop it into the correct position on the panel representation that matches the actual location of that tile installed on your actual panel. Drag and drop is all you need to do - very simple, and no coding or anything tricky here. Of course, you do have to match the software representation of your panel to the actual layout of the panel or it won’t work (the wrong tile will light up etc in FSX). Additionally you can change the color of the back light between red, green and amber with the click of a button.
Saitek Backlit Information Panel Review by Dean Bielanowski
Once you get the process down on setting up the panel, any changes you wish to make can be done relatively quickly by removing the panel face, switching out the information tiles, putting it back together and then going to the software to make the new assignments. Like the other modules, what is displayed on your FSX warning panel for your aircraft is what is displayed on your backlit information panel (assuming you have the same associations/warning tiles set). While not a functional module, because you can’t actually use it to modify or change anything in Flight Sim, it can be useful for flight deck builders as an actual information panel display, of which there are virtually no others available right now in a similar price range.
The Saitek ProFlight panel module line in the whole is not too bad a system. Obviously I think some particular areas of each panel could be improved on as mentioned in the text above, but I think Saitek have achieved the goal of providing a hardware panel system to suit the more budget conscious flight simmers out there. While the products may not be as durable or as sturdy in design as the GoFlight gear for example, they do offer an alternative at a cheaper price. I am certainly one to chant the benefits of spending a little extra to get better quality, as it usually pays off in the long run, but for some products like the Instrument Panel and Backlit Information Panel, there is no other inexpensive alternative out there for these modules, ready to go straight out of the box. I would like to add that if you are serious about building your own flight deck, or you are in the market for the odd piece of sim hardware to improve the realism of your simulator flying sessions, then do look around at everything that is available. No one hardware panel system really does it all, or does it better than any other right across the board. What the Saitek system does offer however, is an entry into the hardware panel arena at lower retail prices. Check out www.saitek.com for any further information, if required. Saitek ProFlight panel systems are not widely distributed in retail stores, but can be purchased from specialized flight simulator retailers like PC Aviator and others.
ProFlight Instrument Panel Review by Dean Bielanowski
Although this is the smallest piece of gear in the ProFlight lineup, I also think it is the coolest. The Saitek ProFlight Instrument panel is actually a 3-1/2” LCD display that allows you to view your six primary flight instrument readouts on the screen, these being: Airspeed Indicator; Attitude/Artificial Horizon; Altitude; Vertical Speed; Compass; and Turn/Slip Indicator. You can choose any of these six to de displayed on the Instrument Panel at any time (via use of the scroll buttons), or if your budget allows, you can buy six Instrument Panels so all six instruments can be viewed at once. In addition to these six, you can also display some extra instruments VOR1, VOR2 by downloading extra software from the Saitek website. Six buttons running down the left edge of the unit are programmed by default to load up various flight deck screens like the Map, GPS, Main panel and others in your sim. Saitek have also mentioned that these buttons and twist knobs are programmable if you have the skills to write the code to do so for your particular application. Unfortunately I am not a coder, so I can’t say any more on that. The twist knobs will control the heading pointer and course function when in the compass mode, and the right twist knob controls the barometer setting in Altitude display mode. The graphic instrument representations are coded into the Saitek software, so what is displayed will not be exactly the same as that displayed in your Flight Simulator X aircraft. Only the data from Flight Simulator is transferred to the display and this is deciphered by the panel and then displayed on its own representation for that particular instrument. While there is the tiniest amount of lag in the display, it will not affect how your aircraft is flown in the sim, and overall is not a deterrent for use of this product. Given that the actual hardware is quite adaptable with software upgrades, there could be a good future for these little display panels if Saitek proceed with further expanding their versatility. The panel comes with an attached support leg, as well as Saitek’s standard support frame (although sized small for the panel) which allows the panel to be joined to any other Saitek panel product quickly and easily.
Panel Retail Prices (at time of print)
• • • • • • Saitek ProFlight Switch Panel – US$99.95 Saitek ProFlight Radio Panel – US$149.99 Saitek ProFlight Multi Panel – US$149.99 Saitek ProFlight TPM Module – US$149.99 Saitek ProFlight Backlit Information Panel – US$149.99 Saitek ProFlight Instrument Panel – US$149.99
REVIEW BY ROGER CURTISS
or years, Computer Pilot has been describing what it is like to pilot many different aircraft. In this year’s March/April issue, Dean Bielanowski reviewed FS Economy, which offers the opportunity to fly general aviation aircraft to generate income, combining piloting and business skills in order to keep from crashing both literally and financially. That segues as a logical evolution to AirwaySim, where one leaves the cockpit entirely and concentrates solely on running an airline.
demand from that city did not look promising. I decided instead to have my headquarters in Seattle and KSEA offered more passenger opportunities than Boeing Field (KBFI) so I opted for the larger airport even though operating costs would be a bit higher. I surmised that the enhanced revenue generating possibilities would compensate for the higher expense costs. There is a continual decision making process necessary in this game. There are usually tradeoffs to any expenditure and the cost of running the airline goes well beyond paying for aircraft and fuel as will become apparent.
An airline needs two basic things; airplanes and routes. Deciding on both of these is a complementary exercise- the size and range of the aircraft may dictate what destinations can be achieved or the choice of routes can greatly influence the type of aircraft one must acquire.
AIRWAYSIM HOME PAGE
Starting the Airline
AirwaySim is an online airline management simulation where you create, manage and operate your own airline in the company of other enterprising airline executives. There are a finite amount of resources and your airline must compete with the others to obtain aircraft, routes, airport slots, fuel services, while funding marketing campaigns and dealing with various other assorted niggling details in an effort to be successful. Be forewarned- it is not easy and is a quite realistic mimicry of the real world airline business. This means that the high stakes gamble of starting and running an airline comes at great risk with a possibility of virtual bankruptcy. Does this sound intriguing to you? It did to me, so I went to the AirwaySim website: www.airwaysim.com - to learn what was available.
As CEO, the player needs to make these critical decisions. I knew that I wanted to start out small so that dictated that I operate a turboprop fleet instead of more expensive jets and thus limited my route planning to cities within 400nm of KSEA. I could just as easily look for the best deal on an aircraft and then devise a route plan to accommodate its capabilities- there is no single or right way to formulate your service product.
Selecting a fleet can be difficult. The game offers approximately 439 different aircraft models and fleet and engine commonality are rewarded with less maintenance and training costs than a stable of many disparate types. It is highly recommended that the initial aircraft be obtained through operating leases rather than being purchased outright as this greatly reduces the upfront cost. However, the tradeoff is that monthly lease payments are more expensive than loan payments. It is hoped that the aircraft will generate sufficient revenue to cover the higher expense. Another factor to consider is that new aircraft have to be built, so there will be some delay before they are delivered, whereas used aircraft are available to start service immediately. I went to the database of available used aircraft. Each aircraft featured displays its cost, either purchase or lease, and its technical numbers (seating capacity, range, crew requirements, fuel burn, etc) along with total airframe hours and number of landings. Most importantly, it also provides information on the aircraft’s maintenance status.
The first immersion factor is that starting an airline is a complex undertaking. There are many variables to consider and many ways to fail. AirwaySim does a very good job of introducing you, the prospective airline CEO, to this business and preparing you for the management jungle you will be entering. One constant in flight simulation is that if the flight model is complex then the first words of advice are (everyone say it with me)…Read the Manual! Well, AirwaySim is as complex as a 747 so there is no way you will be able to just start it up and take to the skies…reading the manual is a must. The first decision is which of several airline worlds to join. There are usually a few choices ranging from Beginner’s World, to the 1960s and The Modern Era. Each world encompasses a particular timeframe and the aircraft available for your airline will reflect the period…for example, no Boeing products beyond the 737-300 in the 1960s world. Game play is accelerated. A “game day” takes about 35 minutes in real time-and the clock keeps running whether you are logged in or not. Being new to AirwaySim, I thought it prudent to join Beginner’s World that ran from 1993 to 1999. Each airline is staked with $4,000,000 in available cash at startup. My business plan was to start out small and attempt to build a financial cushion from which I could incrementally expand; which translates to small aircraft, and that drove my decision to operate a regional airline in my home area of the US Pacific Northwest. My initial thought was to base my operations in Bellingham, WA (KBLI) in upstate Washington near the Canadian border as I thought it might have the potential to draw customers who would otherwise have to travel to Seattle for air service but the analysis of route
An Airline is Born
THE AIRCRAFT INFORMATION SCREEN
Aircraft are required to undergo periodic maintenance of increasing depth (and expense) ranging from an “A” Check every 7 days to a “D” Check every six years. In determining the purchase or lease price one must take into consideration how soon maintenance will come due and weigh that fee against a slightly higher acquisition cost… keeping in mind that in addition to being expensive, a “C” Check and “D” Check will take the aircraft out of service for at least 7 and 25 days respectively. I decided to lease a DHC-6 Twin Otter. By default, this list is arranged in descending order by virtue of potential passenger demand at each airport. Clicking on a button for more detail will provide pie charts depicting the percentage demand of those passengers for domestic, international short haul and international long haul service as well as another chart showing what airlines in the game provide service at that airport and the percentages divided amongst them.
VISUAL MAP SHOWING SELECTED OR PLANNED ROUTE
MAINTENANCE DATA IS SHOWN ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE PAGE
All flights must commence from and return to your airline’s base city but there is an option to schedule “technical” in-between stops if desired. The route-planning menu instructs you to select a country or enter a minimum/maximum radius from your home airport and then provides a list of available destinations.
Selection of an airport creates a pair of flights, out and back, and the airline manager selects the aircraft type to operate the flight, frequency of that flight (daily or certain days) and the scheduled time of departureafter determining that there are available slots at the airports. The game determines the return flight schedule factoring in the minimum turnaround time (which can be increased by the player- exceeding the turnaround time costs you money) for that particular aircraft type (larger aircraft require longer turnaround times) in order to unload/load passengers and baggage and to refuel. In this manner, the schedule is built. My choices were routes to Portland, OR (KPDX) and Vancouver, BC (CYVR).
THE ROUTE PLANNING SCREEN
FINANCIAL INFORMATION CAN BE DETERMINED BASED ON SELECTED ROUTES/FLIGHT PLANS
OK, you have airplanes, routes and schedules. Now you need to let the traveling public know that you exist by setting up marketing campaigns. The choices are a general campaign and route-specific ones. Decisions must be made as to the duration of each campaign and the media (newspapers, billboards, radio and TV are the choices). Of course, more exposure costs more money so this must be carefully considered and evaluated as the game progresses.
With your airplanes flying you now have a little time to indulge in one of the more interesting aspects of this game- monitoring the forums. The discussions there can become quite complex as players compare notes and offer strategies to achieve/maintain profitability. It provides great insight into the intense nature of airline management and the constant attention that must be given to so many aspects that can influence cash flow. I found one entry stating a belief that it is probably not possible to be profitable operating aircraft with capacity of 30 pax or less because the metrics of the game are geared toward larger airlines and therefore expenses are excessive for smaller operators. This is exactly what I was finding, as all my routes were generating positive cash flow but my airline was losing money due to expenses; particularly marketing, maintenance and ground handling. There is little I can do to minimize the last two without risking safety and so I chose to scale back some of my general marketing campaigns by approximately 2/3 to save about $50,000 a week. This was achieved by reducing coverage to newspapers only in Seattle and my destination cities. In retrospect, I probably would have been wise to restrict this earlier as I was running route-specific campaigns in billboards, radio and TV so there was some unnecessary overlap (I see why airlines hire marketing consultants…not an option in AirwaySim…yet).
Up, Up and Away
ROUTES ARE PROFITABLE BUT AIRLINE STILL LOSING MONEY!
After about 6 months in business, my airline went into a tailspin with a negative balance of $9.1M, load factors decreasing and the cost of the “C” Check weighed in. I received a warning notice from the bank about the financial state but since I did not own any aircraft to use as collateral, I could not obtain a loan and so with no hope of turning things around I opted to declare bankruptcy. Once an airline declares bankruptcy, its fleet is added to the available aircraft pool and other players may acquire them. Pick yourself up and start anew with a different airline name and a fresh supply of $4 million dollars and a new plan. My new airline was called Air Apparent and I decided to abandon the previous plan of using a 30-passenger turboprop. Instead, I would seek to serve cities farther away using larger turbojet transports. Long story short- that worked better…meaning that it took longer for my airline to go bankrupt. All of my routes had good load factors and were profitable but expenses exceeded income slightly every week. It was interesting but frustrating to be unable to reverse the trend- increasing ticket prices resulted in lower passenger numbersincreasing the deficit. It can take awhile to find the sweet spot of black ink at the end of the day and I am still trying.
As I alluded to early on, this is a challenging game and will require an entirely different skill set than what you normally need to fly. There is no autopilot here either. Once you set the parameters, the game will proceed on its own but unless you keep close tabs on how your airline is doing, you will probably fail. This is a realistic scenario and that means that attention to detail is paramount. So many parameters can be manipulated; routes, aircraft operated, aircraft configuration, fares charged, salaries, marketing costs, etc, that the player experiences will be snowflakes - no two are alike.
Are you a player?
If you do take the plunge, bear these thoughts in mind: • If your business plan is not succeeding, change it. Do not be afraid to tweak some of the parameters to see how it influences your bottom line. • Learn from your mistakes. If you go bankrupt, it means you have figured one way NOT to structure your airline. Go back and try another. • Study the forums. Other players are pretty open about analyzing and discussing strategies both successful and unsuccessful and you can learn from them. • The airline business is hard-core. If you are successful at making your airline a profitable one take some considerable pride at having accomplished a difficult task. And if, like me, you manage to always generate red ink be glad that it is only virtual money.
AN EXAMPLE STATEMENT FROM ONE OF MY AIRWAYSIM SESSIONS
If you want to give it a try there is a free demo game that you can play one time. It runs 7 days but provides a sampling of all that is encompassed in the game world scenarios. To participate in the other games is a pay-to-play activity. Players purchase credits and are charged five credits to start a game and one credit a week to continue. The cost works out to approximately 10 cents a day for the 2 to 3 months it takes to run a complete game scenario. Considering the depth of the simulation and the degree of player involvement needed to successfully compete, the cost is quite reasonable.
Cost to Play
Do you have what it takes to succeed? Or will your ownership be the airline equivalent of an old joke about auto racing: How do you make a small fortune in auto racing? Start with a large fortune!
KNOWING YOUR MARKET SHARE AT ANY AIRPORT IS IMPORTANT!
Frequently Asked Questions on Flight Simulation
WITH DEAN BIELANOWSKI
ooking to buy a new PC or upgrade your current system? Wondering what the best system is for ﬂight simulation? Will that particular video card run X-Plane or FSX well? These are questions I commonly get asked by readers and ﬂight simulation customers that call me up. In fact, many of those readers also regularly ask me to write an article on the current state of play with computer parts and ﬂight sims. So here it is! This will be a new column, written in a FAQ-style format, updated every so often as new technology, software and faster PC components appear, that will get you up to date on what is available on the market and provide you with the information you need to know! This issue we will answer some questions on Windows 7 and Flight Sims in particular as these questions still regularly appear in forums online and form the content of a lot of email that comes to my inbox. I’ll also answer some regular hardware type questions too as well as general simming questions that are frequently sent my way.
Do FS2004 and FSX run on Windows 7?
Yes, of course they do. This is pretty common knowledge these days. In fact, as Doug Horton has discovered in recent past articles, Flight Simulator X actually performs better under Windows 7 than under Windows XP and Vista, resulting in higher frame rates under Windows 7 with everything else being equal and unchanged. So yes, you can, and certainly should install Windows 7 or insist on it on any new system being built to get the most out of your sim performance. It is likely most other ﬂight and combat simulators will also experience good performance when run under Windows 7 as well. Additionally, you can also install FSX, FS2004 and X-Plane all on the one system with no conﬂicts. The programs do not talk to each other or conﬂict with each other at all, as long as FSX and FS2004 in particular are installed initially into different folders. This is a common thing to do as some ﬂight simmers like features of the various different sims and choose to use one or the other on particular ﬂights, or for particular aircraft or scenery not available on the others.
to simplify things. It makes it much easier to install add-ons later to this folder as well. You can install to a separate drive like D:\FSX with no problems. However, some core FSX ﬁles will always be installed to and located on the C: drive of the system.
Is Windows 7 ReadyBoost Useful?
ReadyBoost is a little known feature of Windows 7. It actually originated from Windows Vista but is available in all versions of Windows 7 operating system. Basically, what it does is allow you to insert a USB ﬂash drive, and use that drive’s memory capacity as system memory to speed up performance of your PC. But don’t get too excited… many tests have revealed that on modern, and fast PCs there is no real beneﬁt to using this feature, particularly if you already have several Gigabytes of RAM onboard and fast spinning hard disks. Because of the read and write speeds of USB ﬂash drives are not much more than those of higher speed ﬁxed hard disks, the beneﬁt, if any, is minimal, however there may be beneﬁt if the drive is attached to a new USB 3.0 spec port which offers much faster data transfer speeds. ReadyBoost technology is best used on older and slower systems, like laptops that may only have 512Mb RAM onboard and slower 5,400RPM disk drives. There can be beneﬁts to using ReadyBoost technology there. So there is some use, but don’t expect to double your system memory for the cost of a few dollars and actually get any real noticeable beneﬁt out of it if you are already running a super fast system that is less than a few years old. For those on newer systems, your best bet for faster loading time is probably a new solid state drive, although this won’t actually increase frame rates in your sims, it will just shorten the time to load your data into system memory. On regular spinning hard disks, a regular defrag of your drive with a consolidate option will work well.
Windows 7 32-bit or 64-bit?
The main difference between the two versions of Windows is that the 64-bit version can utilize more than 4Gb RAM. While FSX in particular probably doesn’t use more than that anyway, if you plan on running other memory intensive software applications or multitasking then the extra RAM can certainly come in handy and you should opt for the 64-bit version which can handle larger amounts of memory more efﬁciently. Your CPU must also be 64-bit compatible too so be sure to check this before upgrading to a 64-bit operating system. Note also that some older PC hardware or devices may not function under Windows 64-bit operating system if 64-bit drivers are not available for those hardware devices.
Which is the better video card - nVidia 470GTX or Radeon HD5850?
I see this question pop up regularly on forums online and these too particular cards often get mentioned. They are currently priced in the middle of the price range for video cards. At time of print, the best video card for ﬂight sims on a whole would appear to be the nVidia GTX500 series, with the 580GTX an obvious choice. But back to the 470GTX and HD5850. Both cards are similarly priced, with the Radeon HD5850 a little cheaper on the market in general. Looking at performance tests done by sites like TomsHardware.com the Radeon 5850 actually has a slight advantage speed wise over the 470GTX in many game tests. This is surprising to see given that the 470GTX is very popular among ﬂight simmers. I have owned the HD5850 for about 12 months running it on Core i5 system and it has worked quite well. More recently I actually got my hands on a 470GTX card so I was able to do some tests. Although my testing wasn’t overly scientiﬁc, there are some glaring differences noticed between the two cards when running FSX in particular. Firstly, under FSX, the GTX470 does seem slightly speedier in frame rates. I noticed a bit of a boost with the 470GTX card over the Radeon with all settings being equal. The 470GTX does have 256mb more onboard video memory than the HD5850 and this may have contributed to the end result but if anything, only very marginally. Actual GPU speed of processing would have a greater effect I dare say (without proper testing). In terms of image quality, the HD5850 renders FSX much better in my opinion, especially in terms of antialiasing quality. The HD5850 delivers smooth lines, with virtually no shimmer, something which the 470GTX card suffers quite badly with, especially with the newer video card drivers out now. Hopefully nVidia can address this in future driver updates. 67
WHICH VERSION OF WINDOWS 7 SHOULD YOU CHOOSE?
Personally I run the 32-bit version as I have been running Windows 7 since shortly after its initial release and I have no problem. As per previous ﬁndings in tests in this magazine, CPU speed (in Gigahertz) has been found to be the primary factor in FSX performance (with regard to frame rate) over any differences in 32-bit or 64-bit operating systems. USEFUL TIP: If you are using Windows 7 64-bit, FSX is best installed outside of the Program Files (x86) folder. There are known issues with some add-ons when FSX is located in its default location on the C: drive (due to Windows 7 permissions primarily). It is best to make a folder with a simple and quick name like “FSX”, e.g C:\FSX
Is “Sandy Bridge” Ready to Cross?
It seems buying a new generation Intel CPU and motherboard is now back on the cards after Intel has now ﬁxed the problem it had with its P67 motherboard chipsets that caused a massive recall of motherboards that used them. The cost to Intel has apparently been marked at 1 billion dollars or more! The new motherboards with the problem corrected – which may have caused data loss or drive failure over time via the SATA ports – are now being shipped worldwide. This means the new generation Intel processors, which have shown promise as a low cost CPU option with plenty of performance gains over the last generation processors are now ﬁnally useable on new P67 chipset motherboards without fear of future problems. So if you are looking to upgrade your system in the near future, you can certainly consider one of the new Core i3, i5 or Core i7 processors in the 1155 pin conﬁguration to power your next PC. The good news is that these processors are quite easy to overclock as well (with appropriate cooling systems) to provide even more raw speed at a fraction of the price this much speed would have cost buying last generation CPUs.
THE NVIDIA 470GTX AND RADEON HD5850 CARDS BOTH OFFER GOOD PERFORMANCE AND VALUE FOR MONEY
A SHOT OF A CPU WAFER FROM THE SANDY BRIDGE – 2ND GENERATION INTEL CORE PROCESSORS
To get the 470GTX to render FSX as smoothly and without shimmer that the HD5850 delivers, I had to turn many card options up to maximum quality, especially in regard to anti-aliasing and anisotropic ﬁltering, but doing so greatly slows down the frame rates in FSX as the card has to perform more calculations with these settings turned right up, so any speed gains the 470 card had seemed to quickly diminish as I tried to resolve the shimmering problem. I can say that after a fair bit of tweaking, reading lots of information online and playing with various graphics card settings and driver versions that I have all but eliminated the shimmer problem and been able to maintain a frame rate similar to what I was getting with the Radeon card. I’ll keep the 470GTX in my system now because I invested quite a bit of time getting it all working right and I don’t want to have that time wasted. But for me, I found that while both cards are quite a good choice for ﬂight simmers, especially those with tight budgets, the HD5850 required a lot less effort out of the box to get up and running at a level I was happy with. The 470GTX is a great card and there are certainly advantages of using that card over the HD5850, but expect to do a little research and invest some time drawing out the best from its hardware. 68
THE FIRST INTEL P67 CHIPSET FOUND ON MOTHERBOARDS WAS THE CAUSE OF THE PROBLEMS. THESE CHIPSETS HAVE NOW BEEN FIXED AND THE P67-BASED MOTHERBOARDS ARE BACK ON SALE!
Does loading too many aircraft in Flight Simulator affect frame rates?
Basically, no. You can have a lot of aircraft in your virtual FS hangar at any one time. It will not have a direct effect on actual frame rate when ﬂying. The most noticeable effect of a loaded aircraft hangar will be the time it takes to load the actual aircraft list when you select this option from the menus. Because there is a lot of aircraft to load it will take your system longer to do this than with a regular default list of just 20 or 30 aircraft. To ensure the fastest load time with a full load of aircraft in your virtual hangar (100+, including variants) keep plenty of free space on your hard disk and defrag it regularly. These aircraft take up room of your drive and add to the number of ﬁles as well, so the faster the PC can sort through and ﬁnd the ﬁles it needs to load aircraft, the better and quicker the sim will be in loading these windows and lists.
Is X-Plane better than Microsoft Flight Simulator?
Ahh, the age-old question… With technology evolving and software forever changing, the answer to this one also does change from time to time. What I can say with great certainty and accuracy is that Microsoft Flight Simulator is much more popular than XPlane, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is better. The only way I can answer this one is to say that each sim has its pros and cons. Microsoft Flight Simulator is popular because it has a much larger range of add-on products available for it, arguably has better graphics and a few extra features overall.
AN EXAMPLE OF WHAT A NEIGHBOURHOOD WILL LOOK LIKE IN THE UPCOMING X-PLANE 10
We must remember too that Microsoft is also developing the next version of their Flight Simulator line, simply titled “Microsoft Flight”. We can’t really comment on that however as no real information is available on it just yet. Neither sim is better than the other if everything is considered. It comes down to personal preference for many. You can download demos for both X-plane and Flight Simulator X, so that would be the way to go before you decide which platform to jump in to.
When will Microsoft Flight be released?
Sorry, I do not know. No release date has been set. I tend to think at least not before November 2011, and maybe even in 2012 based on prior releases and their time frames between ﬁrst information release and actual product release dates. Your guess is as good as mine at this stage!
A PRE-RELEASE SCREENSHOT FROM FLIGHT SIMULATOR X BACK IN 2005!
X-Plane on the other hand has much better and more realistic ﬂight physics, will run extremely well on almost any decent system purchased new in the last ﬁve years, and the new Version 10 due out this year (hopefully) looks like it will be the biggest upgrade ever to the product with graphics that match and in some cases better those of Flight Simulator X. There is also a fast growing number of add-ons now being offered for X-Plane too, so it is certainly the mover and shaker in the genre.
A RELEASED SCREENSHOT FROM THE UPCOMING MICROSOFT FLIGHT TITLE. IT LOOKS PROMISING SO FAR.
What do you consider the best combat flight sims from all eras?
I saw this question online some time ago, and it is indeed a very good one. There are, and have been a lot of good combat ﬂight sims made in the past, many of which are still popular today, however, it is hard to beat some of the newer sims that use the latest software and graphics technology to simulate real air warfare. So here is what I consider (and there is a bit of personal bias in these responses) to be the best ﬂight sims covering aerial conﬂict over the last 100 years: World War I – It used to be Red Baron 3D, but Rise of Flight: Iron Cross Edition is now my personal new favorite. It offers great graphics and realistic air combat. No jet engines, no targeting systems, just pure edge of your seat combat action and keen skills required to succeed. Great fun!
World War II – IL-2 Sturmovik and Wings of Prey are a close match here. Wings of Prey has stunning graphics that really immerse you into the environment, even if the actual simulation is somewhat simpliﬁed, but still challenging. IL-2 Sturmovik series is also good. The graphics at time of its initial launch were good and the action ﬁerce and intense. It could be very difﬁcult to complete a mission on a consistent basis too. Flight models and damage modelling were generally very good. The latest version in the IL-2 series; “Cliffs of Dover” I haven’t yet had a chance to try. It seems there are some issues with it, as 50% of customers are happy with it, and the other 50% have performance problems or simply cannot get the sim to run at all. We will wait and see how this title pans out. Vietnam Era – Strike Fighters 2: Vietnam. This is an updated version of the Wings over Vietnam simulation by Third Wire Productions. Although some believed the simulation was never really “completed”, it is still a solid simulation of some of the ﬁercest jet ﬁghter combat ﬁrst seen in any war at that time in history.
RISE OF FLIGHT IRON CROSS OFFERS EDGE OF YOUR SEAT COMBAT ACTION!
LOOKING FOR SOME PHANTOM ACTION? TRY STRIKE FIGHTERS 2: VIETNAM
COMBAT SIMS DON’T GET MUCH MORE “ATMOSPHERIC” THAN WINGS OF PREY
Modern Combat Flight Simulator – Falcon 4 is the obvious choice. This sim has been out for an eternity but is still one of the most technical and most realistic out there in terms of aircraft simulation and weapons systems deployment. The graphics are showing their age, however, this product is still the number one choice of serious LAN clubs around the globe. Another contender is the newly released Digital Combat Simulator A-10 Warthog. This sim has only been out for a few months but it appears to be quite popular and offers enhanced and more modern graphics and weapons, along with a solid simulation of the A-10 Warthog which will require time to master.
Helicopter Simulator – I used to love the Comanche series back in the 90s but that was certainly more game than simulation. There hasn’t been a whole lot of helicopter combat sims of note released since, but the standout has to be Digital Combat Simulator: Black Shark. This simulation of the Russian KA-50 attack helicopter offers high quality graphics and reasonably good realism. You can ﬂy it in an arcade style mode, or go for more realism in the advanced modes, which incorporate full start-up and operating procedures.
THE TANK BUSTER REALLY SHINES IN THE DCS: A-10 WARTHOG SIMULATOR!
YOU DON’T WANT TO BE ON THE END OF THIS KA-50 FIREPOWER!
FLIGHT SIM ECONOMY
Tools, Tips and Tricks
BY DEAN BIELANOWSKI
ast issue I reviewed FSEconomy, the free-touse management system that adds a whole new world and much needed spice to your Flight Simulator ﬂights. As a result, I have received word that a number of our loyal readers have taken a closer look at it, and many have given it a go. This issue, I thought I would expand upon that article by delving deeper into some features that you will ﬁnd very useful when utilizing the FSE world, and we take a look at two great FSE applications that will further extend the capability and use of the system.
If you haven’t yet tried ﬂying with FSEconomy by your side, get yourself online and head to the FSE website at www.fseconomy.com – I still use it on a regular basis! Ok, let’s look at some tips, tricks and tools to enhance your FSE experience…
A dollar saved is a dollar earned…
If you are ﬂying for an existing FSE group, or even if you have just started out on your own FBO expansion crusade, consider where you can save some money for yourself or your group. When you re-fuel, try to plan to have enough fuel to make it back to an airport that has your own, or your group’s own supply of fuel. That money spent goes straight back to your group, or remains in your account rather than going elsewhere. This goes for repairs and maintenance fees too. If your aircraft is nearing a 100-hour check, keep it within the vicinity of your FBO or one your group owns that has repair facilities. On larger aircraft, the repair/maintenance bill can be huge! Every dollar saved is as good as a dollar earned.
for yourself, even if it means renting these types to begin with (they are generally expensive to buy, because they are in high demand). On the ﬂip side, if you wish to ﬂy a particular route with a pax or cargo load but it will not even half ﬁll your favorite aircraft, look for a smaller aircraft that the load will ﬁll to near capacity and save on fuel that larger craft consume more of.
Filter for maximum benefit
When you are trying to ﬁnd top paying jobs or looking for jobs departing from a particular area or jobs terminating in another area, use the FSE ﬁlters to make life much easier. On any airport page, you can scroll down the screen and ﬁnd the “ﬁlters” area. They are not really ﬁlters as such, but that is just a general term to describe them. I guess they are more search parameters. Anyway, look for the section that says “Show assignments”. To the right of this you can select either “to” or “from” in the ﬁrst box, then either “airport” or “area” in the second. You can further ﬁlter these results by minimum or maximum passenger or cargo values. So, for example, if I wanted to ﬁnd jobs departing from around the Dallas Fort Worth area, I would ﬁrst go to the Dallas Fort Worth airport page (KDFW), then scroll down and choose Show assignments “from” “area”. This will then search the KDFW page and the airport pages of surrounding ﬁelds and generate a list of all jobs originating from this area. This is a good way to pick up multiple jobs from nearby airports that may be going to the same destination or destination area.
THE AIRCRAFT HIGHLIGHTED IS NEARING THE 100-HOUR SERVICE, SO IT SHOULD BE KEPT WITHIN THE VICINITY OF A PERSONAL OR GROUPOWNED MAINTENANCE/REPAIR FACILITY
You can begin a trip in an aircraft if it is showing say 99hrs 20mins on the clock, but just make sure its next landing point is at your repair facility. You will not be able to take off if your aircraft hours go beyond the 100 hour inspection mark without having it serviced. If you are at a competitor’s FBO, they are going to earn the maintenance fee money! The only way out is to have another aircraft move your aircraft to be repaired, to one of your own facilities, but the cost in doing so may not be worth the effort.
Choose the right aircraft
Just like in the real world, some aircraft are more “efﬁcient” than others for any particular ﬂight task. In FSE, you may have two aircraft of similar size and carrying capacity, but one chews half as much gas as the other. Over time this saving on fuel can add up to a substantial amount. Of course, the most efﬁcient aircraft also are generally the most popular in the FSE world. So keep your eyes open as to which aircraft the bigger groups are using most, and try and track one down
SEARCH AND FILTER ASSIGNMENTS BASED ON NUMEROUS PARAMETERS
Conversely, if I wanted to ﬁnd all jobs destined for Boston, I would ﬁrst go to the Boston airport page (KBOS) and in the search area, create a search for Show assignments “to” “area”. This will show all assignments inbound to the area that currently exist in the FSE system (warning, there can be a lot for large airports). Alternatively, you could select “to” “airport” and this will then just show all inbound jobs to KBOS itself, and not to any nearby airports as well. Make use of this function because it helps save time and ensure you have full loads on your journeys.
Expanding your empire
If you are going it alone, consider investing in a FBO in popular areas. With a FBO located at a popular airport, you can earn ground crew fees from every FSE ﬂight that lands at the airport (and potentially repair/maintenance fees too). This means you are making money, even when you are not online or ﬂying in the FSE world. Owning a FBO does take additional work however, as the FBO needs to be supplied regularly, and this means ﬂying in supplies to keep it stocked and “open”. FBOs that run out of supplies and are supply-less for some time will be closed by FSE, and then later, the space is made available to anyone else to build a FBO at the airport. 73
THERE ARE THOUSANDS OF AIRCRAFT AVAILABLE TO FLY IN FSE. CHOOSE THE BEST FIT FOR YOUR FLYING TASK TO MAXIMIZE PROFIT
ACTIVE MAP SCREEN. NOTE MY GREEN AIRCRAFT ICON DOWN IN THE SOUTH EASTERN CORNER OF AUSTRALIA
THIS MAP SHOWS ALL FBOs AVAILABLE IN CANADA. WHICH ONES ARE YOU INTERESTED IN?
One must also be careful not to expand too quickly, or expand beyond your capacity to run or service your empire. You may have 100 FBOs at all the top airports, but if you don’t have pilots or time to supply those FBOs, they will close and will be an expensive mistake. It is a constant balancing act, just like in the real world, and decisions should always be taken carefully, or risk losing it all!
Vigilance Pays Off!
The FSE interface is not the only place you can ﬁnd top paying jobs. A regular visit to the FSE User Forums can snag you some very proﬁtable ﬂights. Often, other FSE users will post requests for pilots to ﬂy their cargo from one point to another. This may be because the owner of that cargo does not have a large enough aircraft to manage the task in one trip, or they don’t have the time themselves to do it. Regardless, keeping an eye on the forums occasionally results in picking up some good and certainly interesting assignments. Even if the payoff is not terribly large, the job may send you to parts of the FS world you have never visited before, and there always seems to be places that foster great ﬂight experiences around the FS globe.
HERE IS THE SAME MAP BUT WITH THE “ROADS” OVERLAY SELECTED. , BECAUSE I HAVE ZOOMED IT OUT NO ROADS ARE ACTUALLY SHOWING BUT THIS VIEW DOES SHOW THE MAGENTA LINE REPRESENTING MY FLIGHT PATH ENTERED INTO ACTIVE MAP REPORTER
FSE Active Map
If you want to ﬁnd out where your fellow group pilots may be currently ﬂying, or just want to see where other pilots are located or heading in the FSE world, then the FS Active Map application is worth a look. This web-based app utilizes Microsoft Silverlight browser functions to depict the world map (using Microsoft Bing map data) as an underlay to aircraft icons depicting each user currently ﬂying a FSEdriven ﬂight. The catch is, that to see another fellow FSE pilot, they too must also be using the FSE Active Map on their system at the same time. So you will not see every FSE pilot that is airborne, only those who are also running FSE Active Map simultaneously. Regardless, if you get your fellow FSE group pilots onboard with FSE Active Map, you will then be able to quickly identify them (via FSE username) and visually see where they are going and where in the world they are currently operating. In addition, you can hover your mouse over any aircraft icon on the map screen and view the username of the pilot the icon belongs to, as well as their current heading, speed and altitude. You can also see the aircraft type they are ﬂying and its registration number in the FSE world. You can choose the period of time in which the map updates (5 seconds or 30 seconds) too. 74
But this is just the beginning of the FSE Active Map feature list. You can switch from Aerial view (which provides stunning real aerial imagery on the map) to Road view, which shows major and minor roads in the region you are ﬂying, or display a combination of both. Essentially, you can display a great moving map of your ﬂight! You will never be lost again in the Flight Simulator world (or at least we hope not!) Look to the top right corner of the FSE Active Map and you will ﬁnd a MENU button. Here you can access some more great information. Using the CATALOGUE function, you can search the entire list of aircraft that can be used in FSE. Each aircraft entry includes important aircraft data such as fuel, passenger and cargo carrying capacity, cruise speeds, endurance data, aircraft weights, as well as ﬁgures for estimated cost of running per nautical mile or running hour. Very handy! In addition, most entries have an image or several images (some real world, some FS world) of the aircraft for you to easily identify the type. The COMPARE option allows you to compare key aircraft stats between two selected aircraft available in FSE. You might use this to determine the best aircraft type to ﬂy for a particular FSE job, or perhaps to help decide which aircraft you need or wish to purchase. CPM. V15I3
THE CATALOGUE WINDOW SHOWING A PIPER ARROW
The FIND screen allows you to locate aircraft in the FSE world that are either available for sale or for rent. Once you have selected the aircraft type you wish to rent or buy, select either the “For Rent” or “For Sale” button and Active Map will track down that aircraft based on the search parameters and display them visually on the map. Hover the mouse over any results (depicted as aircraft icons) and you can view particulars of that aircraft such as the rental fee, its exact location, how much fuel it has onboard and the aircraft owner. If the “For Sale” button is chosen, the aircraft then displays its sale price when you hover the mouse over its icon. Although these features are available in the main FSE interface, I ﬁnd it much easier to search for aircraft using these options in FSE Active Map instead. It is far quicker to determine aircraft location relative to your current position when accessing this data via the map feature. If you prefer to see data in a LIST format, then you can also access this information via Active Map by using the “LIST” menu option. The same “For Rent” and “For Sale” search ﬁlters are employed here, however, the resulting data is displayed as text instead of being visually positioned on the map. I guess you can have your cake and eat it too eh? The next option is the “LOAD CALC” function. As the name implies, this is a Load Calculator, albeit a basic one. You select your aircraft, enter details of your trip including distance, number of pax, cargo weight, reserve fuel etc, and the calculator spits out some weight ﬁgures for you to load into your aircraft conﬁguration ﬁle or FMS for the ﬂight (if you wish to do things all by the book of course).
The ﬁnal MENU option is the “CALCULATOR”. This is a basic calculator, but with a little extra… it also includes some handy conversion buttons for popular imperial > metric conversions and more. You can use it just like any other basic calculator too. Conversions available are Lbs > Kg, Gal > Kg, Kts > Mph, Kph > Mph and Centigrade > Fahrenheit. The reciprocal conversions are also available via the buttons on the bottom row. This is a handy inclusion. Overall, the FS Active Map is a great addition to the FSE world. There are so many useful little functions that it almost demands to be used on all your FSE ﬂights. FSE users can access and download the ActiveMap from the “Pilot Resources” section of the FSE User Forums.
FSE Active Map Reporter
Active Map Reporter is a second handy utility that works well in conjunction with Active Map but offers a different set of features. It connects to FSE to allow tracking of your aircraft details in ﬂight. To begin with, the upper part of the application screen shows current Indicated Air Speed, current Magnetic Heading and Altitude. Current wind strength and direction is reported, as is the Outside Air Temperature in degrees Celsius and Fahrenheit. Current fuel ﬂow from each engine is reported individually for up to four engines, as well as the cumulative total of these ﬂows from all engines. Fuel remaining is calculated and displayed too. The middle and lower sections are the most interesting in my opinion, and perhaps the most useful to the pilot. Endurance calculated in remaining ﬂight time is recorded and displayed in real time, and this calculation also outputs a distance ﬁgure. Here you can readily learn how much estimated ﬂight time and distance your aircraft can travel given the current fuel remaining, current fuel ﬂow and current environmental conditions. If you need to ﬁnd an alternate in a hurry, just check the calculation for endurance as distance and ﬁnd an airport that lies within that distance ﬁgure. It might be a good idea to give yourself a bit of a buffer of at least 20% on these ﬁgures as they are estimates after all. Next you can enter in a basic ﬂight plan between airports. Doing so unlocks a nice feature of the Reporter. On my example ﬂight I am making a trip to Central Australia. My current calculated endurance as a distance is around 1030nm. I have entered in my ﬂight plan for the trip. It calculates the distance to each airport in the plan when I highlight that airport’s button in the plan table. If the airport highlighted is calculated at a distance beyond the current estimated endurance ﬁgure, the Endurance box will highlight red, telling me I cannot make it to that airport given the current fuel ﬂow, distance to the airport and several other factors. This provides a quick visual alert as a warning should I attempt to make it to that airport. 75
THE CALCULATOR OFFERS HANDY CONVERSIONS, AS WELL AS STANDARD CALCULATION FUNCTIONS
Basically, the Reporter is telling me I need to stop and refuel before proceeding. If I am just out of the range of the airport in terms of the endurance ﬁgure, I need to somehow lower the fuel ﬂow or work the aircraft into a more efﬁcient ﬂight state to increase endurance to make the destination. If this is the case, there must have been a good chance that poor or simply a lack of proper ﬂight planning had taken place prior to takeoff. Whatever the case may be, Active Map Reporter will be able to tell you if you are heading into trouble! In the screenshot, I have deliberately entered in an airport that is out of range (Perth Intl – YPPH) and the Reporter is showing the endurance in red to tell me this airport is not in reach given the current state of the aircraft. The Endurance ﬁgure as a time readout will also highlight yellow when there is 30 mins fuel remaining, and red at 20 mins fuel remaining.
Money makes the world go round… but not a whole lot more…
I am sure it is tempting for any new FSE pilot to try and rack up as many hours, and amass as much money in the FSE world as possible. I would be guilty of doing that, at least in the beginning. But we have to remember that while it is great to have $1,000,000 or even $100,000,000 in your FSE account, at the end of the day, that perhaps has as much value as $10! Unfortunately FSE money can’t buy real world items, so for me at least, I like to think that using FSE should not be all about generating endless amounts of virtual wealth. As nice as it may be, the last thing you want your FS ﬂying to be is a task or chore. When it becomes that, virtual ﬂying becomes much less enjoyable. The best wealth you can own is in the enjoyment factor of ﬂying your simulator. FSE helps to provide a purpose for this enjoyment, but don’t let it take over every moment of your day, or every thought process that goes through your head. Enjoy it for what it is… but most of all enjoy the FLYING that you do with FSE by your side. After all, if the ﬂying is not enjoyable, your FSE experience will likely not be enjoyable either.
FSE can generate a number of different maps that are useful for ﬂight planning and visualising certain data. A stroll around the FSEconomy web interface will reveal these. For example, once you have selected some ﬂight jobs and added them to your “My Flight” section, go to the “My Flight” page and look under the list of selected ﬂights and click the “Map My Flights” button. The system will generate a map showing the routes of all your ﬂights, or the ones you have selected. This is useful to look at because it helps to better identify any airports that you may pass over enroute, and these airports could have additional jobs heading to your destination.
FIND THE “MAP MY FLIGHTS” BUTTON UNDER YOUR FLIGHT LIST ON THE “MY FLIGHT” PAGE
ACTIVE MAP REPORTER SHOWING THAT PERTH INTL (YPPH) IS OUT OF RANGE (ENDURANCE DISTANCE FIGURE HIGHLIGHTED RED) GIVEN MY CURRENT FLIGHT STATUS
In the Airports page for any particular airport, there are two icons up top next to the airport name. The ﬁrst blue airport icon brings up a window when clicked that displays the airport with Google mapping. You can view it as a road map, or as a satellite image just like in Google Earth, and of course you can select a hybrid representation too. This map just depicts the airport visually and is useful if you are unfamiliar with the airport. It does not contain any airport data. The second icon named “FS Charts” connects to the FSCharts. com website. Here the user can select from a Generated map of the airport (which uses Flight Simulator data) and includes navigational aid frequencies and runway information and type. Additionally, if any other charts are available for that airport, these can be opened. These are Jeppesen style charts and offer more valuable information for approaches/departures and other speciﬁc airport information. The availability of these detail charts varies greatly from airport to airport, and some large airports may have only one or two charts, others none, and you might ﬁnd a smaller airport with a heap of charts available, so it is certainly a mixed bag, but nonetheless very worthwhile checking out if you are not familiar with the airport you are operating out of, or in to for that matter. CPM. V15I3
Another nice feature of using Active Map Reporter and Active Map together is that when a ﬂight plan is inserted into Reporter, the plan will be displayed as a Magenta line on Active Map’s map view. Along with your aircraft icon showing your current location, you can readily determine if your aircraft is on the right track and heading as per your ﬂight plan – excellent! Reporter will also calculate total fuel used during a ﬂight and provides real-time position data via GPS co-ordinates. You can also select between a standard font and a digital font for the display readouts. I prefer digital, but it can be harder to read at times. 76
General FSE tips for users
To ensure the use of FSE goes along as smoothly as possible, there are certain things you should and should not do while using the system. These are outlined in the FSE manual, but since many of us have a tendency to skip reading manuals and just get in there and ﬂy, I will re-print them here for your beneﬁt, because they are important to know! You wouldn’t want to have just completed a 10-hour ﬂight and then pressed the wrong button by accident to ﬁnd your ﬂight will not be recorded by the FSE system, losing all that time and effort, so here is the ofﬁcial list of DOs and DO NOTs from the FSE manual; • ALWAYS check the FSE Client before moving your aircraft to ensure you have all your assignments onboard. • ALWAYS set your parking brake at every stop! Make sure you get credit for your ﬂight. • ALWAYS check the capabilities of an aircraft with various fuel levels. • ALWAYS check the “My Flight” screen before you start the FSE client. • DO disable the “Slew” key in your keyboard commands. No Slewing is allowed. If you hit it by accident and you are in ﬂight it will cancel your ﬂight! • DO join in the Forums discussion, it adds to the fun of FSE. • DO say “Hi” to your loved ones at least monthly, you won’t see them much! • DO NOT chase the “money” in FSE, you will get burnout fast! • DO NOT use the MSFS option of “Unlimited Fuel”. • NEVER quit the FS Economy program while in ﬂight. • NEVER park your aircraft near the fuel pumps in FS! • NEVER use time synchronization tools. They affect the time measuring and cause a rental charge that is too high. • TRY NOT to leave more than 50% fuel onboard when you’re ﬁnished with a plane unless you plan on using it. • TRY NOT to leave system aircraft without enough fuel to reach the nearest fuel depot. • ABOVE ALL... do not cheat. FSEconomy is not foolproof but fortunately, 99% of possible cheats are known and traceable. The FSE Audit team regularly reviews activity logs and will take steps to ensure fair play by all. I will leave it at that for now. This is certainly not an expansive list of everything you need to know about Flight Sim Economy, and it is not meant to be. After all, discovering new features or ways to maximise efﬁciency, or just ways to make the FSE experience more enjoyable is half the fun. But you cannot experience any of this if you do not give FSE a try! So head on over to www.fseconomy.com now and get onboard. And if you see me online (username “Reverb”) be sure to give me a holler! Thanks to Capt Des Broadﬁeld for the technical advice used to form the basis of this article (FSE username “Capt_Des”). 77
DALLAS FORT WORTH AERIAL VIEW VIA GOOGLE MAP REPRESENTATION IN FSE
WHILE THERE ARE OTHER SOURCES FOR CHARTS AVAILABLE ONLINE, FSE UTILISES FSCHARTS.COM TO OFFER A LIMITED CHART DATABASE FEATURE
You will ﬁnd map features scattered around the FSE site in one form or another, so take a good look at each page as there are “hidden” gems to be found everywhere!
RT 8 ING FSX PA RK HMA BENC
New Components for Budget Computer Builds
BY DOUG HORTON
ecall that in the last 2010 issue of Computer Pilot, I provided an article on “Budget Computer Builds for FSX.” The included hardware suggestions were based on mid-priced components, which I proved could provide about 90% of the framerate performance of very high-priced components. With the 90% target, this article provides updated recommendations for budget computer builds for FSX that include:
78 CPM. V15I3
• New family of processors and related motherboards from Intel • New family of high-performance memory from Corsair • New models of graphics cards from NVIDIA/EVGA and AMD As in previous installments of this series, all recommendations are based on framerate performance tests using the FSXMark07 procedure and FSX conﬁguration settings, with framerates logged by the FRAPS utility. These freeware utilities are available in ﬁle FSXMark07.zip at www.avsim.com, and the latest downloadable FRAPS installation ﬁle is available at www.fraps.com. The procedure is very simple, and a brief description is provided in this article.
Intel has released new products in the i5 and i7 series of processors that offer several updated features, including Turbo Boost Technology 2.0. Intel suggests that Turbo Boost 2.0 will deliver more performance and more energy efﬁciency than its predecessor, and “it will incorporate new power averaging algorithms that should enable lower energy consumption and, more importantly, make more thermal headroom for overclocking.” For this article, I tested a sample of the Intel® Core™ i5-2500K processor, for which the “K” designation signiﬁes that the processor is “Unlocked and Unleashed,” as labeled on the retail box. Though Intel’s K-series processors are targeted for overclockers, they are in no way restricted to power users. This processor was selling at time of writing for about $229 USD with a CPU cooler included.
For those with a higher budget, the i5-2500K has a big brother, the i7-2600K processor, with a default clock speed of 3.4 GHz and maximum Turbo Boost speed of 3.8 GHz, currently selling for $330. Though I have not tested this more expensive processor, based on the comparative clock speeds, I’d expect it to improve FSX by the ratio of 3.8 to 3.7 GHz maximum Turbo Boost speed, which would be about 3%. That level of improvement can be easily provided by slight overclocking of the i5-2500K. However, there’s another difference between these processors. The i5-2500K includes four cores with four threads and a 6 MB cache, while the i7-2600K has four cores with eight threads, by means of hyper-threading, and it has an 8 MB cache. If the new Microsoft Flight product takes advantage of more than four threads, paying extra for the i7-2600K would make sense. Because of new features, these second generation processors require an LGA socket 1155 motherboard, which includes the new P67 chipset. The i5-2500K processor also includes a built-in graphics processing unit, and it can be used for this additional function when paired with an appropriate motherboard, such as the Intel DH67BL, which includes both DVI and HDMI outputs on its back panel. I did not test i5-2500K’s graphics performance.
I conducted the tests for this article using a ﬁrst generation Intel motherboard model DP67BG, which is part of Intel’s Extreme collection. It’s targeted for power users, and is full-featured, including two internal SATA III connectors and two back panel USB 3.0 connectors. It accommodates selected Intel “second generation” processors designed to ﬁt socket LGA 1155, and its P67 chipset consolidates functions previously performed by northbridge and southbridge chips. It also qualiﬁed for an Energy Star rating. At time of writing, this motherboard model was minimally available from sellers, and from those with this product in stock was heavily discounted, because a small chipset issue has been identiﬁed and is being remedied on this board design. Manufacturer exchanges are available and second generation models are planned be available by the time this article is released. The target price is expected to remain at $185 USD.
RETAIL PACKAGE FOR “UNLOCKED AND UNLEASHED” INTEL CORE I52500K PROCESSOR AND CPU COOLER
The i5-2500K processor is particularly attractive for FSX because previous benchmark testing has proven that framerate performance of FSX is linearly related to processor clock speed and that is more important than any other hardware component factor. With a default clock speed of 3.3 GHz, and a maximum Turbo Boost speed of 3.7 GHz, as well as four processing threads, this processor provides great FSX performance, especially considering its price.
TOP VIEW OF INTEL DP67BG SOCKET LGA 1155 MOTHERBOARD
I also tested the new “Vengeance” line of memory from Corsair, which describes the product as follows: “Vengeance™ DDR3 memory modules are designed with overclockers in mind. Vengeance DIMMs are built using RAM specially selected for their high-performance potential. Aluminum heat spreaders help dissipate heat, and provide the aggressive look that you want in your gaming rig. As a bonus, the attractive low price of Vengeance memory will also leave lots of room in your system build budget.”
I tested a Radeon HD 6850 reference card from AMD and a retail NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 card from EVGA, both with 1 GB GDDR5 memory. At time of writing, both cards were nominally priced at about $200 USD, though this price is softening, and I’ve seen net prices for both cards in the range of $160-180 USD after discounts and rebates. The respective manufacturers suggest these cards are comparable in terms of market positioning and price.
AMD Radeon HD 6850
The Radeon HD 6850 is the lowest price model in the AMD’s current 6000 “Barts” series of graphics cards, which at time of writing also includes HD 6870, 6950, and 6970 cards. According to AMD, the 6000 series provides: • DirectX 11, for the latest in high-speed, high-ﬁdelity gaming and computing, featuring technologies like Compute Shaders, Direct2D, Multi-threaded Rendering, and Tessellation, • AMD Eyeﬁnity technology, for immersive gaming, productivity and entertainment on up to six displays simultaneously, and • AMD EyeSpeed technology, for “beautiful, rich video playback” when streaming from the web, viewing movies in “stunning, stutter-free HD quality,” running multiple applications smoothly at maximum speed, and enjoying “lightning fast game play and realistic physics effects.”
CORSAIR VENGEANCE DDR3 1600 (PC12800) MEMORY, IN ORIGINAL BLACK COLOR
Corsair provided samples of both 2 x 2 GB and 2 X 4 GB DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) memory kits. With 9-9-9-24 timing, this new product was initially released in black and then subsequently released in a new “cerulean blue” color. I like the new color because it was chosen to match component colors on several lines of motherboards, including the Intel model DP67BG tested for this article. I like Corsair memory because of the company’s Limited Lifetime Warranty, which was particularly useful after I needed to obtain a replacement memory “stick” several years ago.
CORSAIR VENGEANCE DDR3 1600 (PC12800) MEMORY, IN NEW CERULEAN BLUE COLOR
I tested each Vengeance memory kit as two-channel memory, installed in two of the four memory slots on the Intel DP67BG motherboard. I compared framerate results with FSXMark07, to see if there was any difference in FSX performance between 8 GB and 4 GB memory installed, with results later in this article. At time of writing, Vengeance selling prices were: 2 x 4 GB kit – $100 USD, 2 x 2 GB kit – $55 USD, and for those with socket LGA 1366 motherboards, the related triple channel 3 x 2 GB kit was priced at $78 USD. Memory prices have been declining over the past year, so look for slightly lower prices by publication time, and always look for discounts and rebates. 80
AMD in recent generations of graphics cards has focused on multi-monitor capabilities, including mid-priced products. The accompanying image shows that the sample reference card includes two DVI, one HDMI, and two mini DisplayPort outputs. This should be popular with PC ﬂight simulation enthusiasts who are exploring multi-monitor setups. The 6850’s Eyeﬁnity multi-display technology includes: • Native support for up to 4 simultaneous displays, or up to 6 displays with newly evolved DisplayPort 1.2 Multi-Stream Transport technology • Independent resolutions, refresh rates, color controls, and video overlays for connected displays • Display grouping, which combines multiple displays to operate as a single large display CPM. V15I3
Note in the accompanying images, two of several alternatives are shown for connecting up to six monitors to Radeon HD 6000 series cards. Though the images depict the HD 6870 card, connections to the HD 6850 are identical. Recognizing that early adopters of new technologies often pay premium prices, the current selling price of one manufacturer’s MST hub is $166 USD, and DisplayPort-capable monitors might cost more than monitors with DVI, HDMI, and/or VGA inputs only.
EVGA GEFORCE GTX 460 SUPER CLOCKED GRAPHICS CARD AND RETAIL PACKAGE HD 6000 SERIES CONNECTION OPTION WITH MINI-DISPLAYPORT, MST HUB, AND TWO DVI CONNECTORS
Some of the “new and improved” features of the GTX 460 card are: • DX11 tessellation – breaking down triangles into ﬁner pieces to allow game designers to “pack an enormous amount of geometry into the scene without sacriﬁcing performance.” • PhysX- a feature that utilizes the power of the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) for physics computation. NVIDIA doubled the number of “CUDA cores” over the prior generation, and they designed a new cache architecture that provides “enormous bandwidth on-chip.” • NVIDIA’s 3D Vision and 3D Vision Surround features are supported. • Real-time ray tracing and path tracing are provided to produce images with “perfect reﬂections and refractions, accurate shadows, and photorealistic lighting.”
HD 6000 SERIES CONNECTION OPTION WITH TWO MINI-DISPLAYPORT CONNECTORS, MST HUB, AND DAISY-CHAINED DISPLAYPORT MONITORS
NVIDIA / EVGA GeForce GTX 460
Because the goal of this article is to suggest additional hardware for budget builds for FSX, I asked developer NVIDIA and manufacturer EVGA to suggest and provide a sample card that would be a great value in terms of performance relative to “under $200 pricing.” I asked also for comparability in pricing and market positioning with the AMD 6850, which I received ﬁrst. In response, NVIDIA and EVGA suggested the GTX 460. Though I was slightly uncomfortable with the notion of testing a 400 series card in view of the 500 series having been released, I learned that the GTX 460 is not a scaled down GTX 480, 470, or 465 processor. Instead, it’s based on a separately developed graphics processor, and another reviewer reports that it has better performance than the GTX 465. It’s therefore no surprise that on the www.NVIDIA.com website, the GTX 460 is listed with the 500 series generation and not with the 400 series “previous generation.”
The sample GTX 460 is EVGA’s model 01G-P3-1372-TR, which is “factory super-clocked.” The GPU clock speed is 763 MHz, the shader clock is 1526 MHz, and the memory clock is 3800 MHz (effective), compared to default speeds of 675, 1350, and 3600, respectively. This model of the card is provided with 1 GB GDDR5 memory, and it has two DVI connectors and one mini-HDMI connector. Two DVI to VGA and one mini-HDMI to full HDMI adapters are included. Up to two displays can be connected with any combination of connectors.
CONNECTOR END OF THE EVGA GEFORCE GTX 460 GRAPHICS CARD
Benchmark testing was performed with a single Dell model WFP3007 30” LCD monitor connected to one of the DVI ports and operated with 2560 x 1600 resolution, with the home built test rig powered by a Corsair 650 Watt modular power supply – model CMPSU-650HX. As a quick refresher, Gary Dunne’s FSXMark07 framerate benchmark test procedure is available at www.Avsim.com, in ﬁle FSXMark07. The ﬁle includes two conﬁguration ﬁles, either of which can be loaded to modify your FSX.cfg ﬁles; a set of ﬁles for the test ﬂight; and a description of the simple installation and setup procedure. Framerate counting and logging is performed by the free FRAPS utility, which is available at www.FRAPS.com. The simple procedure involves starting FRAPS and making settings recommended for use with FSXMark07, and then starting FSX. After FSX is running, you load either of the two custom conﬁguration ﬁles – I use the Global High conﬁguration – and then load the FSXMark07 ﬂight. If all settings are correct, you’ll see the FRAPS short-term average framerate in yellow in one corner of the screen, and if you then un-pause FSX, it will run the test ﬂight and FRAPS will show a green box for a second or two, and then the numbers will then disappear. After ﬁve minutes, FRAPS will momentarily display a red box and the yellow numbers will reappear. At this point, FRAPS will have counted frames and logged the ﬁve minute minimum, maximum, and average in a speciﬁed ﬁle and folder.
jerkiness, as if there’s a milliseconds delay in rendering every frame, which may explain the lower framerate performance of the HD 6850. In contrast, the screen image with the GTX 460 was completely smooth. Just for curiosity, I tested a GTX 480 card in place of the GTX 460, and there was no statistically signiﬁcant change in framerate. For FSX operation, the GTX 460 “gets the job done” and is a great value at nearly one third the price of a GTX 480. Processor Overclocking. Because the i5-2500K processor is “unlocked and unleashed,” I conducted FSXMark07framerate tests with modest overclocking, using the better performing GTX 460 for graphics. Though there are many BIOS adjustments possible, I tested with the default Turbo Boost multipliers at 37, 36, 35, and 34, and then I changed the multipliers, for sequential FSXMark07 tests, to all 37s, 38s, 39s, 40s, 41s, 42s, 43s, and 44s. With a base clock frequency of 100 mHZ, and with Turbo Boost enabled, these settings lead to respective processor speeds ranging from a default average of about 3.5 GHz to 4.4 GHz. As expected, framerates increased linearly with processor speed, and the statistical correlation with a straight trend line was close to 99%, as shown in the accompanying image. By the way, for the overclocking tests, I replaced the retail package cooler for the i5-2500K processor with a Coolermaster Hyper 212 Plus air cooler, which I’ve described in previous articles. It’s also highly rated by other reviewers, particularly in view of its selling price of only $30 USD.
Summary of Results
In this testing, I ran the FSXMark07 test with the HD 6850 and GTX 460 graphics cards with new 2 x 4 GB Corsair Vengeance memory and 2 x 2 GB Corsair Dominator memory for a total of four conditions, all with default operation of the i5-2500K processor, during which the processor operated between 3.3 and 3.7 GHz, as managed by Turbo Boost 2.0.
RESULTS FOR BENCHMARK TESTING TO TWO GRAPHICS CARDS AND TWO MEMORY CONFIGURATIONS
Memory. For each graphics card, doubling the amount of motherboard memory, even with new memory products, makes no difference in FSX performance. Though consistent with my previous tests of FSX and amount of memory, the ﬁnd is signiﬁcant in a new context. With memory prices having decreased signiﬁcantly in the past year, I see many ads for large memory kits, such as 12 GB and 16 GB, perhaps this is so manufacturers and resellers can realize the same proﬁts on lower priced products. From my testing, more than 4 GB dual-channel or 6 GB triple-channel memory installed makes no difference with FSX! Graphics Cards. More interesting is the performance difference between the two graphics cards. Recall that I tested these cards based on nominal price similarity and comparability recommendations from manufacturers. It was surprising to see a framerate gain with the GTX 460 compared to the HD 6850 of 37%. On a qualitative basis, I observed the screen image to be a bit jerky with the HD 6850. Not the “stuttering” sometimes observed as occasional delay in FSX scenery and texture loading, but a continuing 82
PLOT OF FSXMARK07 FRAMERATE TESTS OF OVERCLOCKED I5-2500K PROCESSOR
Overall Summary. Statistical framerate testing conﬁrms once again that FSX performance is highly related to processor speed, and for the testing completed for this article, the only other important factor is the graphics card, though it appears the difference in manufacturer is more important than the particular model. The new generation i52500K processor works great with FSX and was easily overclocked to 4.0 GHz with the default CPU cooler. Testing of comparably priced, competitive graphics cards showed the tested EVGA GTX 460 SC beating the tested HD 6850 reference card on framerate and image performance. 4 GB motherboard memory worked ﬁne, and increasing memory to 8 GB made no difference in FSX performance. Also, the maximum power draw I observed on this test rig, not counting display wattage, was about 260 watts, so the 650 watt power supply I used was quite adequate. These test results conﬁrm the value of another mid-price collection of components for a budget computer build, which can perform as well with FSX as a system with much higher priced components. CPM. V15I3
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