Wednesday, May 27, 2009

AVSIM Coming Back

The AVSIM forums are back. Yay! The file libraries are still offline, but there is some indication that many (if not all) of the files are still intact. It may be the case that they are working on a new web interface for accessing the files at this time.

Let's hope they have a more robust backup strategy in place for the future...

Captain Sim 757 v4.3 Out

Captain Sim rolled out a nice update to their 757 add-on last week, v4.3. Check here for the full list of fixes. One of the most important enhancements is full support for updating the navdata in the 757's FMC with updates from Navigraph. Hooray! Have fun.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Upcoming Goodies (May 2009 Edition)

OK, if you are like me, you have probably worn the new off of your PMDG MD-11 or Wilco E-Jets by now. Sure, these are some excellent add-ons, and they continue to serve us well with many hours of flying enjoyment. At the same time, I am always looking forward to the excitement of new add-on aircraft available to try out. I eagerly await impatiently for each new release, almost like a kid at Christmas time. So what is coming down the pipe for us this summer? Here is what we know of:
  • PMDG Jetstream 4100. This one is believed to be due out quite possibly in June, and it will be FSX-only. There were some excellent sneak preview screenshots of this one over at the AVSIM forums before they were lost recently. With so few good turboprops available for FSX these days, the 4100 is sure to see lots of action in my fleet for simulating commercial service to smaller markets this summer. The 4100 will be the first in a new series of richly-detailed commuter aircraft from PMDG, with features such as FMS's fully simulated where available. By the way, PMDG has let slip that their next project in this series will indeed be a Dash-8, although they aren't saying which, I'm hoping for the Q400. :-)
  • feelThere ERJ v2.0. If you liked feelThere's old ERJ (and I certainly do, even if it is substandard by today's standards), you are going to love this one. It is unclear whether Wilco is handling the distribution for this one again, as there is no mention of it yet up at their website. The feelThere developers have had plenty to say about it over at their forums, though, including some very sexy screenshots. (Me likey these a lot!) There is some suggestion that the ERJ v2.0 may include all variants in the ERJ line, from the Legacy and 135 to the 145XR. McPhat will be doing a bunch of repaints for this one again, and according to a news posting over at their site, they just got hold of the models to repaint from feelThere in late April. I would suspect the ERJ v2.0 will take to the virtual skies by late summer sometime, at the latest. This will be available for both FS9 and FSX.
  • Airsimmer Airbus A320. These guys are new to the scene, but they have put together what looks to be a very impressive simulation of the Airbus A320 series of aircraft. Although feelThere/Wilco's Airbus Vol. 1 add-on isn't bad, it definitely lacks in the realism department in a few areas -- so it will be nice to have a PMDG/Level-D style Airbus available to fly around in. Check out the screenshots and video posted here. The developers have done a very nice job of engaging with the fans at their forums, and keeping them updated on their progress. It seems the A320 will be out first, and the others in the series (A318/A319/A321) will be out later on as an upgrade within the next year. They have set the pricing at $89.95 US, and mentioned that the FS9 version will be out first, with the FSX version to follow soon after. Both versions will be included in the purchase price. One of the beta testers mentioned that he expects the initial release on this to possibly be in the June/July timeframe. Flight1 will be handling the distribution for these guys, and I have been very impressed with the products Flight1 has handled in the past. Farther down the line, I expect we will probably see some nice Airbus heavies from these guys.
Disclaimer: these release dates are NOT OFFICIAL by any means. They are best guesses based on recent forum postings or speculation, and could change at any time. Please do not complain to me or the developers if these dates slip. As most developers are fond of saying, "it will be released when it's done."

Farther out, we know these are under development:
  • PMDG 737NG 2.0 -- complete reworking of the 737NG for FSX and FS9. PMDG insists that things are progessing along well. Perhaps we will see this one in Winter 2009/2010 or so? Hope so...
  • PMDG Dash-8 -- their next project after the Jetstream 4100. I suspect we will see this one in 2010.
  • Level-D 757 -- the Level-D guys insist they are still working hard on this one. They have been pretty quiet about their progress otherwise, and we have not seen any screenshots or other info gauging their progress. So who knows? If you need a 757 for your fleet in the meantime, Captain Sim makes a pretty decent one, and it will soon support Navdata updates from Navigraph.
  • PMDG at one time hinted that they might be working on an Airbus, but who knows? With Wilco and Airsimmer both having competent Airbus add-ons, the market seems to be a little saturated to me now. Still, perhaps they can come up with an interesting new direction.
  • Captain Sim is known to be working on a B-52 add-on. Should be a very unique aircraft. They posted a preview of the body a while back. No updates on systems or release timeframe yet.
And in no particular order, here is my current wishlist:
  • A realistic simulation of the Airbus heavies, in particular the A330s, A340s, and A380. An outfit known as Next-Level Simulations is supposedly working on a nice A380. Will be interesting to see how that one goes.
  • A realistic Boeing 777. The only one still readily available is Wilco's, and it is buggy and...well, not very realistic. I want something like the PMDG 747, with a 777. (I know PMDG did a 777 long ago...bring it back, please?)
  • A realistic CRJ. Wilco's isn't bad, but it is quite long in the tooth. It lacks a lot of niceties, such as full terminal procedures at airports. A refresh similar to feelThere's new refresh of the ERJ would be awesome...
  • A Saab 340 turboprop. I could see PMDG maybe doing one of these after their Dash-8. A lot of commuter airlines are phasing these out, but there are still quite a few around...
  • An Embraer 120 Brasilia turboprop. Another possibility for PMDG's successor to the Dash-8?
  • A Russian jet, such as the Tupolev Tu-204, would also be very interesting. Cubana flies one over the Eastern U.S. all the time between Havana and Toronto.
  • A Boeing 717. PMDG has done the avionics (MD-11), and CoolSky has done the body (Super 80). Maybe we could mix the two together and get a 717?
  • Some more of the oldie jets would be fun...Airbus A300/A310, Lockheed L-1011, Convair 880/990, Boeing 707, or Douglas DC-8. Might be right up Captain Sim's alley, given their recent work with the 727.
  • Speaking of the Captain Sim 727, how about an optional extra to retrofit it with a FMS, like FedEx has done with their 727s? I do love the classic 727, don't get me wrong. More options to play with are fun though.
  • A BAe-146 (or AvroRJ) -- pleeeeeease?
I'm sure I'll think of others, but have some fun with these ideas...

AVSIM Update: Lemonade from Lemons

Some good news regarding the recent AVSIM disaster, from this post:
  • Their file libraries were apparently not affected, and they hope to have them back online within a couple of weeks. Hooray!
  • The recent donations to AVSIM are sufficient to purchase two new servers for hosting the site. The servers will have failover capability, and they will pursue a more effective backup strategy this time around.
  • They are using this disaster as an opportunity to redesign the site and give it a new look.
They are also working to see if they can recover the forums, but that will be a bit longer.

No word yet on whether there has been any progress with catching the perps responsible...

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Just a quick post to let you all know I am still around. Sorry things have been slow on here lately! I took a new job in Texas last month, after I got laid off in Oregon back in January. (Gotta love this lousy economy we all find ourselves in these days...ugh.) I am in the process of moving my family back to Texas, so things are going to be a little busy in "real life" for a little while. I'll get back to posting regularly on here as soon as I can. Thanks for understanding, and happy flying -- real or virtual!

AVSIM Hacked, Destroyed

The BBC (among many others) is reporting that AVSIM was hacked and effectively destroyed on Tuesday. Unbelievably, AVSIM did not have an effective backup system in place, so the site is effectively offline for good.

Terrible loss. I personally hope the authorities catch the responsible parties and throw the book at them.

Tough year for us flight simmers -- first Microsoft shuts down ACES Studio, and now AVSIM is destroyed by some punk.

There is a temporary discussion forum for the AVSIM community available here.

If you can help Tom and AVSIM out with a donation through PayPal to help get the site back up and running, there is a Donate button at the temporary discussion forum. I plan to chip in a little after I get paid again tomorrow. I also have quite a few liveries archived that I have downloaded from AVSIM over the years, and I'll be glad to upload them back if he gets the site up and running again.

Please feel free to pop over there and see if you can help out in some way. Thanks!