Sunday, January 31, 2010

PMDG 747-8i/F Expansion Available

PMDG has released the 747-8i/F expansion model today! The cost is US $24.99 and a licensed copy of the PMDG 747-400X is required.


Friday, January 29, 2010

Guess and Win Wilco's Next Plane!

Wilco is running another contest where you can win a chance to receive a free copy of their next plane if you correctly guess what it is before it comes out! Check it out.

I think I have a pretty good idea about this one, though I was wrong the last time they did this...

ERJ v2 SP2 is Available

The feelThere! ERJ v2 SP2 was recently released, containing more bugfixes. Go check in wherever you purchased the ERJ v2 and pull down the update...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

PMDG 747-8i Preview Video (and more)

PMDG had some fun with us a couple of weeks ago, uploading some 747-8i videos to Youtube. There was considerable debate as to whether these were real or faked. PMDG finally came clean with their big announcements over the weekend. They also uploaded this video to come clean, and give us a little taste of what to look for in 2010 and beyond. Enjoy!

PMDG Moving Away from FS9 Development

Captain Randazzo from PMDG also mentioned yesterday that PMDG is transitioning to FSX-only development on all future projects after the 737 NGX. They are also currently undecided as to whether they will do a FS9 port of the 737 NGX as well.

Ryan from PMDG stated that they lost money on development of the MD-11 for FS9, and the market seems to have dictated that more people are buying products for FSX now.

As expected, a few diehard FS9 fans are taking the news rather hard. Most people seem to be accepting the decision, though. I think it just comes down to fear of change, when you get right down to it. A lot of people don't like the idea of having to change. I totally get that many people have invested thousands of dollars in add-ons for FS9. There is nothing that prevents you from installing FS9 and FSX on the same computer, and running either one. This way, you can keep playing all your enjoyable FS9 add-ons, and still move forward with FSX. Most computers being sold nowadays can run FSX no problemo -- you could certainly drop no more than $1000 on a system perfectly capable of doing a nice job running FSX. Asking a 6 year old computer to run FSX with 50% AI traffic enabled is ridiculous -- of course it's going to suck. Technology marches forward, and there is no reason that development should be hamstrung from taking advantage of the latest and greatest hardware and software features just to satisfy a few people who are stuck in 2004 and refuse to upgrade.

I'm sorry, but I think all these things are really just excuses designed to account for the fact that people generally don't like change, and some people in particular don't like the idea of having to change from FS9 to FSX.

OK, I'll get off my soapbox now. :-)

PMDG Unveils Heads-Up Display

Hot on the heels of their previous announcements, PMDG has unveiled a sneak preview of an exciting new feature that is expected to be part of both the upcoming 737 NGX and the 777 products: the heads-up display (HUD)! It will feature full integration with gadgets such as TrackIR.

Captain Randazzo says that more screenshots of this feature in action integrated with the VC and 2D panels are forthcoming.

Are you guys getting excited about this one yet? This is going to be one massively fun plane to fly. PMDG keeps raising the bar in flight simulation. Can't wait to see more, and better still, get my hands on this thing when it's ready...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Captain Sim 727 v2.3 Pitch Control Hotfix

Speaking of Captain Sim, I recently (finally) got around to upgrading my 727 to v2.3. And wouldn't you know it, I encountered a very nasty bug that a lot of people are tripping over. It seems if you are running FSX SP2, the pitch control on the autopilot no longer works! (FSX Acceleration users will not encounter this problem.) This has to do with the fact that v2.3 now relies on some functionality only present in Acceleration to support the pitch control.

Captain Sim is aware of the issue, and a fix for SP2 users is scheduled to be included in the v2.4 update. In the meantime, a hotfix for this issue is available from their knowledge base.

In other news, I still find the 727 autopilot a little bit wobbly when following VOR radials, even in v2.3. Oh well. Not a major issue, but annoying.

Captain Sim B-52 BUFF Exterior Released

Captain Sim has released the B-52 BUFF Exterior model. Sale price is €9.99, which is around US $15.00. As mentioned before, this is simply an external model, with the VC and panels aliased to the default FSX 747. Captain Sim has not yet announced whether they plan to produce a full version with systems and flight deck modeling. Then again, their 727 started life this way a few years ago, too -- so perhaps at some point in the future, we will see a full version of the B-52 BUFF.

Got to give Captain Sim some credit for rolling out the first new product of 2010. ;-)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

PMDG Confirms 777 and More!

Captain Randazzo, head honcho over at PMDG, checked into the forums with a major news update last night. Tons of exciting news! Brief summary:
  • First of all, they are giving us a little bonus for the 747-400X: a new 747-8i external model! Boeing recently unveiled the 747-8, and flight testing is expected to begin in early 2010. Now we can enjoy the 747-8 in Flight Simulator, too! This is just an add-on external model for the 400X; the avionics and flight dynamics are still the same. Still, it should be close enough to the real thing to be enjoyable. PMDG is planning to unveil this by the end of January.
  • Next, work on the 737 NGX (v2) is progressing along, in spite of some delays. Apparently, PMDG is working closely with Boeing on the 737 NGX, and they have had some difficulty coordinating schedules with Boeing. The good news is that they are working on integrating the virtual cockpit, which should put them on the home stretch toward beta testing. Looking forward to seeing this one! A mid-2010 release is expected, but there is nothing firmer than this to report yet.
  • PMDG is still working on the Dash-8 as well, although this is going rather slowly at the moment, as most programming resources have been allocated toward the 737 NGX. Things on this front are expected to pick up once the NGX goes beta. The -200/-300 models are being done first, but Capt. Randazzo says that they "intend to work through the Dash-8 series." Hopefully this means we'll see the Q400 later on. Probably won't see this one until sometime toward the end of 2010.
  • And now, the big news...Capt. Randazzo confirmed that PMDG has plans to develop a 777. Hooray! Capt. Randazzo says that the 737 NGX will provide a testbed of technologies that will be directly applicable to the 777. He says that the 777 may well represent "one of the shortest development cycles in PMDG's history," as it sounds like they plan to reuse a lot of things from the 737 NGX. Very nice!
Sounds like great things are ahead for us from PMDG in 2010! Can't wait!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Virtual Aid Flight to Haiti

As you are probably aware by now, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck near Port-au-Prince, Haiti on Monday evening. The quake has caused intense loss of life and devastation to property. Reportedly, even the control tower at Toussaint L'Overture International Airport in Port-au-Prince is structurally unsound now, due to the quake.

Donations to aid the people of Haiti can be sent through the Red Cross or the Salvation Army.

Other than giving, there really isn't much I can do individually to help the people of Haiti. The U.S. and many other countries will be sending relief supplies to Haiti on transports such as the C-130. I thought it would be interesting to see what a simulated aid flight from South Florida to Port-au-Prince might look like. I used the Captain Sim C-130 for this, departing from Homestead JARB (KHST) to Toussaint L'Overture (MTPP). As we have to steer around Cuba for political reasons, I cruised east, then southeast over the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos, before arriving at Hispañola. Here are some screenshots of the flight -- the Captain Sim C-130 sure is a fun plane to fly.

Haiti, on western portion of the island of Hispañola, lies directly ahead of us:

We are over the Gulf of Gonâve, about to turn east for the final approach onto Runway 09 at Toussaint L'Overture:

Here we are on final for Runway 09. I am executing a visual landing for this, as it is likely the radar and other systems at Toussaint L'Overture are down due to the disaster:

Here we are safely on the ground:

Hang in there, and God bless you, good people of Haiti. Help is on the way.

CLS 767 Released

Commercial Level Simulations (CLS) has released their 767 product for FSX. Looks nice, and the price is very reasonable, at €23.99 (around US $35) as well. CLS is known for producing add-on aircraft that aren't terribly realistic, but fun to fly -- comparable to the default FS aircraft. If you happen to be looking for a 767 that you can jump in and fly off with, without the learning curve involved with the Level-D or Captain Sim products, then this might be a good choice for you.

Captain Sim Unveils B-52 BUFF Preview

The fine folks over at Captain Sim have certainly been keeping busy! Today they unveiled a preview for their upcoming B-52 BUFF product. Screenshots of the exterior model are available. Looks rather nice.

The B-52 BUFF is currently rated as an "Express Line" product, which means it should be relatively inexpensive. It appears that they have spent most of their time up to now working on the exterior model. The VC and 2D panels are mentioned as being mere aliases of the default FSX 747. I don't know if this will change, but it would be interesting to see a high-fidelity simulation of a B-52.

Friday, January 8, 2010 2009 Awards

Flugsimulation has announced their Best of 2009 awards. Check them out!

Awards, like reviews, are always somewhat subjective. Just the same, I find it interesting to see what other people think from time to time. No surprise, their readers voted the PMDG BAe JS4100 turboprop the best payware aircraft of 2009. It was second place that I found rather interesting: the Airsimmer A320. With all the kvetching going on about Airsimmer these days, I was surprised to see that enough people liked it that it came in second. (I am still waiting on the Advanced Edition for FSX before I take the plunge on that one, for what it's worth...)

The Leonardo Maddog 2008 (MD-80) came in third. I'm a pretty happy customer of the CoolSky/Flight1 Super80 Pro myself, but I may give the Leonardo a look one of these days, just out of curiosity.

Surprisingly, the feelThere/Wilco ERJ v2 didn't make the cut. It may have been released too late in the year to be considered, but if it had been me, I probably would have put it ahead of A320 at this point. Now if Airsimmer delivers as promised on the A320 Advanced Edition, that will change...

Future feelThere Projects?

Vic from feelThere posted an interesting comment in their forums not long ago, when someone inquired about an update for the CRJ. Reading between the lines, one gets the sense that feelThere would be very interested in doing an update to the CRJ, but they apparently do not own the rights to it. (Wilco does.) He indirectly suggested that everyone should bug Wilco into hiring feelThere to do a CRJ update. Sounds like a good idea to me!

Just posting it here so I can spread the word... :-)

Wilco's CRJ is very long in the tooth, and could definitely stand a refresh. I wouldn't mind seeing someone like PMDG taking this one on, either. One way or another, I would love to get an updated CRJ in my fleet!

feelThere ERJv2 Wolrd Airliners Vol. 3 Available

feelThere/Wilco/McPhat have all teamed up to release another new package of liveries for the ERJv2: World Airliners, Vol. 3. You can catch screenshots of the liveries here. They include:
  • Air France Régional
  • Luxair
  • British Midland
  • Lagunair
  • LOT
  • Satena
  • ExpressJet
  • AeroLitoral
  • United Express
  • Continental Express
  • Delta Connection
  • British Airways
While some of these have showed up in past livery packs, these typically represent a repaint of a different type than was previously available: for example, Continental Express flies the ERJ-135, the ERJ-145LR, and the ERJ-145XR. Up to now, there was no repaint of the ERJ-145XR in the Continental Express livery. This same situation likely applies to other liveries here, as well.

I own Vol. 1, and I really like it. I did pass on Vol. 2, mainly because it entirely consisted of BA Connect (British Airways) specialty repaints. I think BA is a perfectly fine airline, and I like having some BA repaints in my virtual fleet, but this was a bit much for me. However, Vol. 3 looks very nice, and I will probably add it to my collection before long.