SSG Boeing 747-8i Beta 1.1 Released (Now Version 2)

For the X-Plane pilots out there, check out the latest version of the Boeing 747-8i by Supercritical Simulations Group (SSG).

Now on version 2 of  development, the latest release improves flight dynamics with the help of real world pilots, improved 2D panel, external HD lighting support, X-Pland 10 support, and various other tweaks that improve the feel and autopilot. Version 2 is a stand alone download, no need to have previous versions installed.

Note: Version 2 is only compatible with X-Plane 10!  A version for 9.70+ is coming.

I also added SSG to the X-Plane Directory hosted here at ARoMO.

Sweetness!

<download 747-8i beta 1.0 at x-plane.org>

<download 747-8 version 2 at x-plane.org (X-Plane 10 Only)>

<Visit the SSG Forum for Support & Questions>

Update 07jun13 – SSG releases the 747-8i version 2 with Passenger & Freighter Configurations
Update 18mar12 – SSG releases the 747-8 Freighter beta 1.0 at the .org!

<download 747-8 Freighter beta 1.1 update at x-plane.org>

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Project Airbus Keeps Them Coming: A320 v2.1

We really ooohhh’d and aaawww’d when Project Airbus released the A320 v2 for FS2004.  Then we ooohhh’d and aaawww’d a bunch more when they released the A321 with new features not found on their legendary A320.  At this point, the A320 was antiquated and there really wasn’t much reason to continue ooohhh’ing and aaawww’ing about it.

Ooohhh, aawwww: The A320 v2.1

Well, we can now ooohhh and aaawww again when we fly the Project Airbus A320 v2.1.  The latest update combines the legendary A320 with the awesome new features of the A321, including:

  1. Wing flex
  2. Improved A321 engine nacelles
  3. Modeled wiper blades
  4. Additional antenna
  5. Reshaped APU
  6. Revised cargo door animation

The official release and documentation is in this Project Airbus forum post.  Downloads are available at the PA download section or via Avsim. Note, you must download the base pack AND a livery pack for it to work.

Check out those detailed engines!

Once downloaded, prepare yourself for some serious ooohhhh’ing and aaawwww’ing.  I am in the process of putting this update through its paces, so more will come later.

A note on FSX compatibility.  This model was built for FS2004 and no FSX model exists.  While you can load it into FSX yourself, your experience may vary and there will be limited support.

Cheers! Happy Airbus’ing!

Update 01dec12 – updated links to the new Project Airbus site at http://www.pafs.wf

A Boeing Never Built for MSFS

Hiroshi Igama, a modeler for the SkySpirit2010 group, is a seriously talented modeler.  In his spare time, he cuts the 767-200 fuselage 66 inches and releases a plane that Boeing never built.  A plane being referred to as the 767-100 is now available for download.

The Boeing 767-100 by SkySpirit2010

BUT, since this was a side project, the 767-100 is represented in visual model only.  In fact, the package available for download uses the -200 FDE, so the contact points and fuel burn are not of the -100 model.

Even still, I must say that this “little guy” will grow on you.  Quite possibly the handsome brother to the Airbus A310, the Boeing 767-100 will likely make a magnificent BBJ-variant for those “haves” in the world.

Turning southwest in the late evening sun

So, if you are up for a sense of adventure in FS9/FS2004, take this Boeing baby out for a flight and enjoy a model that Boeing never built.

First Impressions of A340 for X-Plane

There is a new Airbus A340-600 model out for X-Plane, brought to us by the team at The X-Plane Paintshop.  This model is based off of the FSX A340 model from Thomas Ruth, with a host of others contributing to its greatness.

XPP A340-600 over Santa Barbara

XPP A340-600 over Santa Barbara

I am still in the process of putting “the long one” through its paces, so I will limit this post first impressions.  The exterior model, like the FSX counterpart, is nicely detailed and highly accurate.  The 2D panel is the full width (as opposed to the pilot of first officer view) and provides easy access to the autopilot and contains the “glass” gauges typical of an Airbus.

The only drawback are the twitchy flight dynamics.  I have not flown a real A340 and have only spent about 20 minutes flying this model, but I found that is noses up and down easily.  This may have been due to weather, but I found it very difficult to trim the aircraft for straight and level flight.  More testing here to come!

You may download the aircraft and livery pack from the X-Plane Paintshop download page.  Registration is required, but its super simple and free (so don’t complain!).

Cheers!

A BBJ 747-8i for Hawaii

It is without a doubt, the SkySpirit2011 Boeing 747-8i is a brilliant aircraft.  Not only did Boeing do a great job extending the life of their largest airliner, but the SkySpirit2011 group brought it to life for us in FS9 and FSX.

The SkySpirit2011 Boeing 747-8i over Anchorage, AK

Since its release, repaints available have been somewhat limited and limited to commercial airlines.  With only a small percentage of the population with the means to have a private jet the size of a 747, it is no wonder that private liveries weren’t more abundant. Until now that is.

Recently released by Alexi Antoniou is the “BBJ” livery for the SkySpirit2011 model (link at the end of the post).  While the repaint is not without fault (there seem to blending issues on the left wing [fixed in a recent update]), it is still a pretty cool repaint and it is the only one available as of the time of this post.

Since I have been obsessing about a trip to Hawaii, I decided to take the BBJ 747-8i on a “long” trip from Denver, Co (KDEN) to Kailua-Kona, Hi (PHKO).  With a distance of about 2,800 nm, the newest 747 is the perfect, roomy personal shuttle to get there in style.

Pre-flight preparation on the ramp at KDEN in FS9

So, we arrived at Denver airport and was promptly escorted to the ramp where our flying hotel awaited us.  There was lots of activity loading cargo, stocking the galley and other last minute preparations for our flight to Hawaii.   Despite the light rain and thunderstorms in the distance, we anticipated a relaxing flight.

As each engine started, the cabin doors closed and the flight crew escorts us to our leather wrapped personal modules, we took in the beauty of the lavish interior. With lots of fine wood, chrome and gold accents, and enough leather to kill a cattle ranch, we started to feel like kings.

Cleared for takeoff, we begin our flight

Despite the luxurious accommodations and careful pilot, we could feel the motion of the aircraft as we taxied to RWY 17R for departure. The occasional flash of lightning and roll of thunder in the distance made me wonder if we shouldn’t wait.  However, the pilot knew more than we did and we trusted his judgement.

Pressed back in our seats as the thrust propelled us forward, we eagerly anticipated that sinking feeling when lift off is achieved.  However, we didn’t really notice that we left terra firma until we looked out the window and saw the ground falling away.  The pilot made such a smooth transition to flight, we almost missed the moment.

leaving Denver behind, we take to the air

Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t as smooth.  Not even one minute after leaving the ground, we experienced some heavy turbulence.  Despite the leather and padding, the stomach felt every dramatic drop, lift and bank produced by the unstable air.  Ironically, I noticed a lack of puke bags, which made me wonder if the VIPs ever got sick.

Turning west for Hawaii

As we banked toward the west and steadily climbed out over Denver and the Rockies, the cabin crew came by and checked on us.  Free drinks and appetizers were being prepped.  I asked for a beer and chose the chicken kabobs, as the ahi tuna rolls seemed a little too much for my weary stomach.

After we reached cruise altitude and settled in the for the long flight, we got up and explored the exquisite surroundings.  From the polished, wood carved mahogany staircase that led to the executive suite and lounge upstairs to the gold plated fixtures in the master bath, the builder left no luxury behind.  We took a seat at the lounge and kicked back with our personal bartender.

Sunset over the Pacific ocean

With a few too many drinks and a fabulous steak dinner with garlic mash potatoes, I retired to the lounge and fell asleep on the couch.  I dreamed of being an entrepreneur with many successful companies under my belt, flying around the globe to give speeches to inspire my employees and relax on brilliant white beaches while the money rolled in.  Ah, the life.

But the dream was cut short when the cabin crew woke me up and asked to return to leather wrapped throne. We were getting ready to land at Kona.  I looked out the window and found nothing but blackness.  It was just after midnight in Hawaii and the sun had long set and the moon was but a sliver.

Descending near Hawaii

With an announcement from the pilot, we were ready for landing.  I commented to the crew that falling asleep on such a beautiful airplane was like a mortal sin, to which they snickered and walked away.

The flaps extended and the engines quieted.  As I began to make out the detail of ocean below us, it quickly changed to land.  Then a marker light passed below us, and I prepared for a quick deceleration so typical of commercial jets.   Then there a slight jolt, but the deceleration was nothing more than hitting the brakes in the car.  This pilot was good.

Touching down at PHKO

We taxied to the ramp and I watched as the staircase was moved into the place and the cabin crew opened the door.  You could feel the warm, tropical air rush into the cabin, displacing the leather and varnish smell.  I was happy to be here, but sad to leave such an accommodating and large aircraft.

On the ramp with smoke pouring from the rear galley

But, our departure was not without fanfare.  One of the cabin crew had left a microwave oven going with a meal in it.  As we took a step toward the door, the cabin began filling with smoke.  At the top of the stairs, we looked toward the tail and saw nothing but black smoke.  The fire crew were on there way and we were ushered quickly down the steps and into the waiting limousine with our baggage. Then our Hawaiian vacation began.

Cheers!

Model: SkySpirit2011 Boeing 747-8i (<download>)
Livery: “BBJ” by Alexi Antoniou (<download>)
Scenery: Default FS9 (boring!)

For an awesome Boeing 777 (POSKY model) BBJ livery, check out BBJ Design Group.

Project Airbus Releases the Long One

I have heard the Airbus A321 referred to as the “flying pencil.”  A friend of mine even refers to it as the “flying penis.”  However, you refer to it, it is now available for Flight Simulator, both FS9 and FSX.

The Project Airbus A321 is the fourth variation of the A32X family of aircraft manufactured in Europe.  The A321 joins the A318, A319, and A320 for your flying enjoyment and has the same incredible visual model Project Airbus is known for delivering.

Project Airbus A321-231 leaving LAX in FS9

It is available on Avsim (links here) and via the Project Airbus downloads section of the website.  A word of caution however, packages are split into base packages and repaints.  You must download at least one livery with the base package.

Lufthansa Retro A321 over Germany

Now for the more complicated part, the livery instructions require precise file placement and the execution of a .bat file. I tried three liveries and couldn’t get any of them to work.  My advice, extract the texture files, add the configuration code to the aircraft.cfg, and copy the texture files included in the base package to the texture folder.  Anyway, good luck!

On approach to SEA-TAC in FSX

This is one sweet aircraft that works well in FSX and FS9.

01dec12 – updated links to the new Project Airbus website

A New Boeing 727 For FSX

Thomas Ruth is most well known for his Airbus line of models for FSX.  The A340, A330, A310 and A300 come to mind and are constantly in the “Top Files” charts at avsim.com. His models are a great compromise between detail, frame rates and realism.  In addition, Thomas’s consistency across all of his models is exemplary.

Taxi for takeoff at KVCV

He must have run out of Airbus inspiration as he recently released a really cool Boeing 727 package for FSX.  Included are the -100 and -200 models with a few liveries to match.   Included is a detailed virtual cockpit, wing views, and enough eye candy to satisfy any flight sim enthusiast.  My favorite feature is the virtual cockpit as they always a sense of realism to the model.  I don’t care how great the exterior model is, a 2-d panel just doesn’t cut it anymore.  I am a virtual pilot seeking realism and Thomas Ruth delivers!

Gear retraction in early morning sunrise.

For my inaugural flight in a 727-100C wearing UPS colors, I flew an early morning flight from Victorville (KVCV) to San Luis Opisbo (KSBP) to see how she flies and how the frame rates handle this large metal bird.   As I pushed the throttles forward, the 727 very reluctantly started to move.  In fact, my reaction turned to wondering whether or not this thing will ever get up enough speed to take flight.  Since this was a new aircraft and the older jetliners weren’t as responsive as today’s jets, I sat back and watched the needle slowly move around the circle. Eventually, and with room to spare, this UPS 727 took flight!

Turning to course for San Luis Opisbo.

With gear retracted, we made a left turn toward to a heading that would take us to SLO.  The flight was relatively short, with only a few hundred nautical miles separating the two airports.  While in the real world, this would have been costly and there must have be good financial reason for making such a flight, the short distance lets me spend time behind the yoke and get an impression of this awesome bird.  After all, this is A Reality of My Own.

To save you the time, I will simply say this bird cruises well.  The autopilot functioned as it should and the virtual cockpit was an excellent place to monitor traffic, gauges, and the view outside. With fully clickable buttons and good quality gauges, the realism is what we have come to expect from an FSX model.  The engine sound is spot on and you can almost smell the stale coffee brewing in the galley.

Turning to final

Clicking off the autopilot and “stick” flying this bird to landing gave me a chance to feel how this bird really handles.  With just a banking turn after take off and a few minutes of flat and level flying during cruise, I really didn’t have the opportunity to put it through its pace, until now.  I am happy to say that there are no surprises, other than it handles like an older jetliner should.  When you start to bank, it feels sluggish and resists the change in motion.  Bank too much and the nose drops very quickly.   Maneuvering to short final reinforced this as I came in off center and too high initially.

Slammin' down on the pavement

With a little finessing and careful use of the throttles, flaps, and speed brakes, I was able to align with the runway and slow the bird down.  Unfortunately, that day there was a stiff cross wind and I ended landing off center. Initially I was disappointed with myself, but a commercial pilot I know said that they do land off center as the ride is typically a bit smoother. So, maybe I knew what I was doing, but I was surprised how hard I hit the runway.  This was one “hot” landing.  Engaging the reverse thrusters and slowing down was not an issue and I was happy to feel how composed the 727 was despite the harsh landing.

Whew! Made it to the ramp!

Taxiing to the gate proved to be simple, with a straight line shot from the runway turnoff to the ramp.  The 727 turns as expected and it has that jet handling, sluggish to get started, but then speeds up quickly as friction is overcome, forcing one to throttle back to keep the speed down.   Arriving at the gate, it was time to shut down the engines and take another look at the exterior model.  With fully animated doors and operating rear stairs give this three holer more of a sense of realism parked at the gate.  One problem though, is the UPS freighter livery does not have an opening cargo door.  This is likely because the model is a passenger version wearing a freighter livery.  Perhaps a true 727-100F/200F will be released at some point.

Overall, Ruth’s Boeing 727 for FSX hits the mark and is a great addition to my virtual hanger.  Like the Airbus models released before it, this 727 has a great virtual cockpit, enough eye candy to please the gamers and is easy enough on the frame rates that it does not choke our video cards.   Go get it if you haven’t already!

Author: Thomas Ruth
Filename: tom7271.zip (fix: tom72fix.zip)
Download: tom7271.zip on Avsim (fix download)

Update: Thomas Ruth also released the Boeing 727-200 Advanced model.  Follow this link to grab it from Avsim.