Saturday, January 31, 2009

Captain Sim 727-100 Pro Out

Haven't seen an official announcement in my inbox yet, but a quick peek over at the Captain Sim site appears to indicate that the first bird in their 727 series is now ready for departure: the 727-100 Pro. Reports in the forums indicate that the product is still somewhat incomplete -- in particular, it seems to be missing some essential sounds and has no 2D cockpit. The 727-200 and freighter versions are still not yet available. I will probably wait for this one to bake a little more before I pick it up.

Still, nice to see some fresh activity on the flight sim front in 2009, especially in light of last week's bad news at Microsoft.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wilco Looking for XRJ Pilots

If any of you out there have some flight time in an XRJ, feelThere would love to hear from you. They are looking for beta-testers!

I had to dig around a bit, as I didn't even know what an XRJ was. Seems to be a reference to the ERJ-145XR, which only ExpressJet operates. It is the most souped up of the ERJ series, with improved engines and aerodynamics that give the plane a range of 2000 nm. (Whether you would want to sit in a glorified sardine can for 4 hours is probably up for debate, though!)

Still, it looks like we are in for another fun goody from feelThere later this year. I still dig their original ERJ add-on, and I am looking forward to the revamped version.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Microsoft Cans ACES, Flight Simulator

Well, this sucks.

As part of Microsoft's first-ever layoff yesterday, it seems they shut down the ACES Development Studio. ACES was responsible for the development of the Flight Simulator products. Looks like there won't be any more Flight Simulator development for a while.

I sure hope the economy turns around soon. Seems the news is 100% bad these days.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Wilco Tilt-Rotor v2 Coming Soon

Wilco also mentioned that they are revamping their Tilt Rotor add-on, with a major v2 update scheduled for February 2009. Stay tuned...

Wilco Airbus Vol.1 and Vol.2 Updates

After a long period of inactivity on the Airbus front, Wilco unexpectedly shipped out a pair of updates for their two Airbus products last week. Both updates address the exact same set of issues, listed here. The most important fix appears to be one which solves crashing of the simulation with recent Navigraph updates installed. I had not run into this one, but I can say that I have encountered a few other mostly minor, yet nonetheless irritating bugs with the Wilco Airbus add-ons.

The latest updates for Airbus Vol. 1 are version 3d (regular) or 3c (deluxe) for FS9, and 3e for FSX (regular and deluxe).

The latest updates for Airbus Vol. 2 are version 1e for FS9, and 1h for FSX.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Captain Sim Previews 727 Pro Pack

Captain Sim has unveiled some screenshots of their 727-100 Pro Pack here. Looks like they are getting close to a release on this one -- hooray! It will be fun to take this one out for a ride once it is released.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

US Airways Announces New Floatplane Service

Well, not really! I kid, but this was a really serious situation.

I guess you have all heard about the crash landing of the U.S. Airways A320 into the Hudson River today by now. Apparently a flock of birds took out both engines as the plane was trying to climb. Tremendous job by the pilot and crew to steer the plane over the water and get everyone out safely, without a single loss of life. Job well done! Thank God everyone survived...this is truly a miracle, folks.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Speaking of McPhat...

According to this post on McPhat's web site, they are hard at work on doing new liveries for two upcoming releases from two "well-known" developers, with one expected in Q1 and the other in Q3. Wonder what they are?

I have my suspicions, but I won't reveal them here. Who knows, I could be completely off, and we will all be in for a really nice surprise.

Any Thoughts on the Ariane Design 737 NG?

I noticed that Ariane Design has come out with a 737-800 and 737-900ER for FSX. When I first looked at this several weeks ago, the price seemed really steep for each, bordering on outrageous: £59.99, or roughly $106 US! Ouch. That is even higher than the PMDG 747-400X and MD-11. However, in a bit of good news for those of us in the States, the British Pound has fallen rapidly over the last month or so. The price hasn't changed, but the more favorable exchange rates now peg the Ariane 737 at around $87 US, which puts it roughly on par with the PMDG products. Still, I have a few of reservations about this one:
  • Their website describing their products is rather confusing. The 737-800 and 737-900ER appear to be separate products. Are the models substantially different enough to justify charging €59.99 for each?
  • I have seen some grumbling in some of the flight sim forums that the Ariane 737 is rather buggy, with frequent CTD problems. (Then again, similar issues apparently didn't stop me from purchasing the Captain Sim 757.) Some people have even suggested that the Ariane customer support team has been less than helpful. Anyone out there have any experiences to the contrary? I'll give Captain Sim a lot of credit -- their development team has generally been responsive to customer concerns in their forums.
  • Apparently there is no Navigraph nav data support available yet for this one, although there appears to be some interest. I think the situation appears to be rather similar to the Captain Sim 757 at the moment.
It looks like McPhat Studios have been busy cranking out liveries for the Ariane 737 models, which is a pretty cool sign. I would definitely be interested in obtaining a high-quality 737 NG plane for my virtual fleet, given how wildly popular they are in short-haul commercial airline operations all over the world. Any thoughts? Should I look to take the plunge on the Ariane, or just wait until PMDG does their 737 NGX? I love PMDG's work, but they certainly do take their time -- not that this is entirely a bad thing. Their quality speaks for itself.

Maybe in a month or two I'll give the Ariane 737 a shot as a stopgap until the PMDG 737 NGX arrives, similar to my thinking with regard to the Captain Sim vs. Level-D 757. Who knows, maybe as with the Captain Sim 757, I'll be pleasantly surprised with the Ariane 737 NG planes.

Ugh. Decisions, decisions!

Captain Sim C-130

Captain Sim ran a great sale on Monday, December 29 -- everything for €9.99 (roughly $15 US). I already had their 757 and 727, but I decided that the C-130 Pro Pack was too tempting to pass up at such a steep discount. So I went ahead and picked it up.

I have not really gotten into the older military aircraft as much as some, but I'm willing to give this one a chance. It is certainly tough to pass up the C-130 at this price! It will take me a while to get the hang of it, but I will someday post a mini-review when I get some more time to fly it.

Oh Noooooooooo!

Bad news! I lost my hard drive containing my pictures for the Santa Around the World feature. Fortunately I did have a backup, but not recent enough to accommodate those. The good news is that I upgraded to a 1 TB SATA disk that Fry's had on sale over the holidays. I have managed to restore everything to the new drive, and FSX seems functional once again. Ugh. Not a fun way to spend your holidays.

Sorry folks -- will try again next year. Happy new year to everyone, and hope 2009 will be a better year than 2008.