Aerosoft has spent a great deal of time and investment in recreating the A320 family of aircraft for FSX. It has now released its third iteration of Airbus, with a high fidelity rendition of the Airbus A318 and A319 for FSX and Prepar3D. There is so much new detail that these latest aircraft should be considered as whole new simulations in their own right.
It is immediately apparent that Aerosoft has pulled out all the stops with the feature set, immediately propelling the package into the highend, high quality arena. Firstly and crucially the A318 and A319 have been modelled to an extremely high standard of systems fidelity.
The normal operation of the aircraft has been replicated in precise detail, including a full fly-by-wire simulation. The entire operating procedures of the aircraft are all present and correct, including a fully functional overhead panel and FMGS (Flight Management and Guidance System computer). What have not been modelled are complex failures, allowing the developers to concentrate all of their efforts on normal operations and additional features. This is no loss as most Airbus pilots have never seen a real major failure, such is thereliability of the aircraft!
A320 AND A321 NOW AVAILABLE
AT THE TIME of going to press, Aerosoft had just released the companion Airbus A320 and Airbus A321 package. The A320 and A321 have an extended fuselage and larger take-off weight, but share essentially the same cockpit and features. The A320 and A321 can be bought separately or in a bundle of four aircraft with the A318 and A319.
A318 steep approach
The Airbus A318 is the smallest member of the Airbus A320 family. It is short, stubby and designed for commuter operations in and out of airfields too small for larger airliners. Its claim to fame is that it is certified to fly in to London City Airport, despite both the steep approach and very small runway. To fly steep approaches into small city airfields, Airbus implemented a ‘steep approach mode’, which includes computer-controlled spoilers throughout the descent on the glideslope. The Aerosoft model features this specialist mode in its entirety and it is certainly fun to fly the Airbus A318 into London City on the ILS with speedbrakes deployed all the way to touchdown!
The A319 is a larger aircraft than the A318, but is still smaller than the parent A320 and is used around the world. The external models of both of these aircraft are simply superb, really capturing the essence of the Airbus, down to individual rivets and dirt on the fuselage. There are 17 aircraft in the base pack, including the famed British Airways A318 that operates from London City, along with other key operators such as Lufthansa, American Airlines, EasyJet and Air France. Incredibly, there are also over 150 free liveries to download from the Aerosoft forums, which are installed by simply dragging and dropping the zip file over the included livery manager!
Climbing aboard the aircraft, one can see the cockpit has been beautifully reproduced. The Airbus, with its metallic cockpit is notoriously hard to create convincingly in FSX, but the developers have worked miracles and the interior comes complete with scuff marks and dust on the electronic display screens. This has been supplemented by scores of animations including sun visors, retractable jump seat, tables and a functioning tiller for ground taxi. All of the aircraft systems are available, including both a fully functional weather radar and terrain display along with the
In a stroke of genius, the MCDU (console display unit of the flight management system) can be mirrored to an iPad or other tablet computer to be fully touchcompatible to set up your flight plans
and performance data! The FMGS is fully compatible with monthly navigational data updates from the Navigraph service and includes a full database complete with SID and STAR, departure and approaches.
IT’S THE LAW!
THE AIRBUS A320 Family uses a system called ‘control laws’. There are three states: normal law, alternate law and direct law. As the name suggests normal law is the usual operating state of the aircraft. The other two laws come in to play when serious systems failures occur. The Aerosoft Airbus models normal law in detail using a highly complex fly-by-wire simulation – offering full flight envelope protection and Airbus flight model. Most noticeable to us as pilots is the fact that the aircraft automatically trims itself during all phases of flight, pitch adjustment, configuration and change of speed conditions. It is simply point and go and the aircraft will maintain the pitch indefinitely! Perhaps, more importantly the
aircraft is impossible to stall. The onboard computers will simply not allow a dangerous pitch or airspeed. Reduce the thrust levers to idle, even pulling hard on the aircraft nose and the system will command a safe speed and maximum safe pitch! Regardless of aircraft speed, roll rate is fixed and limited to 33 degrees of bank for normal operations, maintaining the chosen bank angle even if the pilot releases the controls. To exceed 33 degrees of bank, to a maximum of 67 degrees the pilot must maintain a constant pressure on the stick. Releasing the pressure will cause the aircraft to revert to the normal maximum 33 degrees of bank. In short, pitch, roll, yaw and speed are completely moderated by onboard computers that will not allow the pilot to stall the aircraft or operate outside normal safety margins. Every pilot control input on the stick and thrust levers are managed and verified by computer systems, with no direct pilot feedback from the control surfaces! It means the Airbus flies like no other airliner, both in the real world and FSX!
An interactive first officer
Were that not enough, interactive checklists are available, complete with a fully voiced First Officer who will work through the checklists with you. ‘He’ can also be optionally configured to operate various switches and controls in the aircraft in response to those checklists. Ambient audio for ATC transmissions and even cabin crew are also included, along with every sound and click of the real aircraft. I was particularly impressed with the quality of the CFM engine sounds and their distinctive whine. The FS2Crew RAAS (Runway Awareness) package has also been included as an integral feature, alerting the crew with audible warnings of entering the runway environment, including a callout of available runway length on touchdown.
There are also fully configurable ground services, aircraft and co-pilot setup and a raft of options available from the right hand MCDU, which acts as a configuration manager. That said, I am disappointed that normal functionality of the right MCDU is disabled and that in tandem with that, both side navigation displays are mirrored rather than independent. I like to have the co-pilot displays available for additional approach data, which is not possible when they are mirrored.
A near perfect replica
That minor niggle aside, this is still the most exhaustively detailed and realistic Airbus ever created for FSX. This includes the notoriously complex autoflight systems, which come with both ‘open’ and ‘managed’ modes of the autopilot and the fly-by-wire protections. It has to be remembered that the complexity of the real Airbus is staggering (there are over 170 computers aboard), so to recreate the day-to-day operations of this aircraft in FSX on a desktop computer is an equally staggering feat. It is all there, in a near perfect recreation.
This depth of detail brings with it the requirement of study for pilots unfamiliar with such a complex aircraft. The team at Aerosoft has done its utmost to lessen the pain with eight separate manuals, including a well written step-bystep tutorial on a flight from Innsbruck. In another welcome touch, the manuals are available in e-book and Kindle format for keeping next to your flying
Virtual airline support
If you fly for a virtual airline you will be familiar with the concept of checkrides, where your flights are graded by training staff at your VA. To facilitate that, a flight data recorder has been included with the package that tracks all of your flight data and aircraft performance. This can be exported and sent to your virtual airline for flight evaluation and can also be read in the FS Flight Keeper package from Aerosoft. It works rather like the black box /ACARS log in real aircraft and monitors the aircraft throughout the flight, including flaps and gear deployment, speed and heading changes, engine power etc. It is sure to delight the many virtual airlines who fly the ever popular Airbus.
Aerosoft’s Airbus A318 and A319 package is simply incredible. This is the high fidelity Airbus simulation that we have been waiting for, in a near perfect replica of the real aircraft (and Aerosoft tells me it will continue to tweak and update!). Couple this with the wealth of additional content, including weather and terrain radars, RAAS, iPad support, flight data recorder, fuel planner and other features it is hard not to be hugely impressed with such an outstanding achievement.
By Jane Whittaker
Price: €39.95 (£32 approx) – €19.95 (£16 approx) for previous purchasers of Airbus X Extended. Also available in a bundle with the Airbus A320 and Airbus A321 for €54.99 (£44 approx) – €29.95
(£24 approx) for previous purchasers of Airbus X Extended.
At a glance: An incredibly detailed recreation of the baby Airbus, complete with a host of supporting features that come together to make an outstanding package. Finally, a high quality Airbus
FSX (SP2 and/or Acceleration or Gold edition or Prepar3D); PC 3.0GHz; 2GB RAM; 512MB graphics card; Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8; 2.5GB hard drive space.
FSX (SP2 and/or Acceleration or Gold edition or Prepar3D); PC 3.0GHz multi-core; 4GB RAM; 2GB graphics card; Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8; 2.5GB hard drive space; joystick with throttle and rudder.