Return to Aerosoft A319/A320/A321

Earlier this week I made the decision to return back to using the Aerosoft Airbus versions of the A319, A320 and A321 and thus (for now) grounding my FSLabs A319 and A320.  While I truly believe the FSLabs versions of the popular Airbus aircraft are certainly more immersive and also more study-level, I’ve been battling some issues with the FSLabs which I’ve not be able to fully address. 

Since COVID-19 has me working from home since mid March, I’ve been using the time to enjoy flight sim.  No, I’m not constantly flying all day when I should be working.  But I do generally start up a 3-4 hour flight in the morning and time it to land during my lunch break.  I will often depart for a second flight during lunch and time that to land just after my day has finished.  Alternatively, I’ve loaded up a long-haul with a duration of 9-10 hours in the same fashion.  During the in-flight time my capable first officer (auto pilot) is flying the aircraft.  I’ve been doing this on an almost daily basis since the beginning of the quarantine and as a result have racked up a few hundred hours of flight time this way. 

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Aerosoft A321 American Airlines

When flying any of my PMDG aircraft (B738, B777 or B744) or the QualityWings B788 the autopilot just quietly controls the aircraft and there are no issues.  However, when wanting to fly either of my FSLabs Airbus aircraft, the same can’t be said.  Almost every time I fly the FSLabs aircraft I will experience constant auto pilot disconnects.  These disconnects (unless I’m paying attention) usually end in with my aircraft doing a nose dive into the ground or water below. 

The FSLabs forums do offer pointers on how to control this behavior.  The main cause for this is turbulence and I’ve adjusted ActiveSky exactly how the info on the forums suggest.  So much so there’s almost very little observed turbulence, yet the AP continues to disconnect.     Short of flying without Activesky, I’m just not sure how else to try to resolve this issue.  In reading the forums, I’m not the only one that (even when following the recommended settings) continue to experience this behavior on almost every flight. 

Most say, this is just the behavior of the Airbus.  I’m not a real world pilot and I don’t personally know anyone that is.  But none of my Boeing aircraft (and the PMDG aircraft I own are just as study level as the FSLabs) behave in this way.  So what I come away with is the tolerances within the FSLabs are just too restrictive as compared to what I’m used to. 

So having said all this, I’ve returned to using the Aerosoft versions of the Airbus.  In doing so, I’m quite surprised at just how much this aircraft has matured.  The last time I seriously used the Aerosoft versions I was on P3Dv3.  At that time they were pretty basic, certainly so when I compared them with the FSLabs.  I still prefer my PMDG Boeing aircraft and I’m also enjoying the QW Dreamliner. But from time to time I do enjoy flying the Airbus series and for my Monday – Friday flights, the Aerosoft will work just fine.  I may even pickup their A330 soon.

Until next time…

Happy Flying!

Jerry

The Real World

Taking a short break from writing about the flight sim world just to document some thoughts I have towards the real world.  Specifically the real world of aviation and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic it is experiencing.  

Like many avid flight simulation enthusiasts, I’m also an avid avgeek.  It’s somewhat funny if you think about it.  As much as I enjoy the hobby of flight simulation and enjoy the real world of aviation, I’ve never had any desire to obtain my private pilots license.  The amount of money I’ve spent on the sim world could have gone a long ways towards paying for lessons.  But either I was too busy in my younger days or now it’s just too expensive.  Either way, time (or lack thereof) still plays an integral part I guess.  But in any event, I still very much love everything about real world aviation.  It might just be plane spotting from my back deck or even travel…I love it all.  But the future of aviation is really uncertain at this point in time. 

Sure, we all must keep a positive outlook on this.  As my long time readers will know, my wife and I usually travel to Europe every other year or so.  We were just over last summer and while we had no plans to travel this year (2020), I’m sure we’ll make the trip again sometime in the future. 

State of the Airlines

Within the aviation industry, airlines are struggling.  Most major airports around the world look like airplane parking lots with multiple runways and taxiways being closed and used for storage.  Those airlines still flying are only operating a small fraction of their fleet and routes.  These flights may contain a few passengers, but mainly are flying cargo.  It’s unclear whether carriers will be able to weather this storm.  While we’re starting to see a re-opening of the world’s economies…I’m not sure how long it will be before we see a return of pre-COVID-19 air travel.

The Demise of the Jumbo

Airlines were quick to begin grounding their fleet of aircraft around the world.  As previously mentioned, some airlines are storing aircraft at their hub airport locations while others are flying them out for longer term storage in the many desert storage locations.  As airlines begin to predict their return to service, the jumbo jet doesn’t appear to be part of their plan.  Virgin Atlantic made the decision to retire their Boeing 747-400’s in early May.  Delta will retire their entire Boeing 777 fleet by end of the year.  Of the approx. 234 Airbus A380’s, not a single one is flying at the present time and just yesterday I heard that Emirate’s has plans to retire some 46 of their A380’s approx. 10 years ahead of schedule. 

Long Live the Queen

My trip to London last summer was onboard British Airways Boeing 747-400.  A truly magnificent aircraft and my favorite to travel on.  While I can’t be certain, but I suspect that flight will go down in my personal history as the last time I was able to fly on the B744.  Most of the 744’s are in the 20+ year age range and just simply may not survive this crisis.  But of course that’s not to say we’ll never see another Boeing 747 flying into our favorite airports. 

Both the Boeing 747-400 and 777 will continue to fly as cargo aircraft for many years to come.  While some passenger variants may end up in the airplane graveyard, many will be retrofitted and return to service flying cargo all around the world.  This of course won’t be the case for the Airbus A380.  Unfortunately, the A380 (passenger variant) wasn’t designed to have an afterlife as a cargo hauler. 

Not Just Widebodies

The impact of COVID-19 isn’t just hitting widebody aircraft.  While one can argue that Boeing certainly had major issues before COVID-19 was even heard of, the global pandemic certainly isn’t making it easy on the aircraft manufacture and specifically for the Boeing 737 Max.  In recent days, orders totaling just over 100 aircraft were cancelled and of course the worldwide fleet of this variant has been grounded for more than a year.  It’s truly difficult to predict when or even if the 737 Max will ever fly again. 

Switching Gears

While not aviation related, I’ve heard that RV sales are at an all time high.  At least for now, people are changing their attitudes about travel and will opt to take their entire house with them where ever they may roam.  This might be wise for some as everything you need is all self-contained in your RV. 

Final Thoughts

As I said at the top of the piece, the future is simply unknown.  As I write this, I’ve been self-isolating/working from home for just over two months.  I don’t expect this to change anytime soon.  Many tech companies have decided not to attempt to bring their workforce back until sometime next year.  Other companies are planning to continue with a work from home policy indefinitely.  While I personally believe we’ll continue to see a drop in the infection/death rate due to COVID-19 throughout the summer, I believe we may see it climb once again later this fall as we enter the typical flu season.  Again, while the future is unknown…we all need to be prepared for the impacts of COVID-19 (in one way or other) to continue to impact us well into the decade. 

Thanks for reading and I’ll be sure to return shortly with a P3Dv5 setup update.  Until then, please continue to take care of yourself and those around you. 

Jerry

WorldFlight 2018 GBS Tour – Leg 10

If you also follow along with my Discord channel, you know I mentioned just before the US Independence Day holiday that my wife had surprised me with a get-a-way to the mountains.  This was in celebration of our 11th wedding anniversary.  The few weeks leading up to the holiday were hectic both with work and at home.  We had a few home repair issues to deal with and I had two work related trips in June that were hectic and stressful.  July is no different from the work side of things.  But as we’re back from the mountains, it’s time to do a little flying and resume where we left off with our tour.

As we begin our 10th leg of this 46 leg journey, we now have two different Airbus airframes we can use.  I’ll mix in the A320 and the smaller A319 from time to time as we continue to also fly Boeing aircraft as well.  While I feel most comfortable in Boeing equipment, I’m starting to gain a better appreciation for the Airbus.  This leg we’ll be flying the Airbus A320.

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History of City

Dzaoudzi (don’t even ask me how this would be pronounced) is a commune in the French overseas department of Mayotte in the Indian Ocean and is located on the small island of Petite-Terre. The commune once held the recognition as being the capital city of Mayotte, but in 1977 the capital was moved to Mamoudzou on the island of Grande-Terre. The commune is the home to 14,311 people (as of the 2012 Census)

History of Country

Mayotte consists of one main island, Grande-Terre, a smaller island, Petite-Terre and several islets around these two. The area of Mayotte is approx. 144 square miles and has a population of 256,518 as of the 2017 Census. While Mayotte is an integral part of France, the majority of the inhabitants do not speak French as a first language.

History of Airport

Dzaoudzi-Pamandzi International Airport is located in the commune of Dzaoudzi. It is the only airport in Mayotte with scheduled services, mainly to destinations within Africa and to metropolitan France. The airport currently can service aircraft up the Boeing 777 size. A new runway (15/33) to the west of the current runway is being planned and will be 2,600 meters in length to accommodate aircraft such as the Boeing 747 and the Airbus A380.

History of Airline

Air Mauritius is the flag carrier airline of Mauritius. The airline is the 4th largest carrier in Sub-Saharan Africa and has an important standing in the European, African and Indian Ocean regional markets.

Flight Briefing

SEY1066
FIMP – FMCZ
Planned Fuel – 23,500
Planned Altitude – 36,000
Distance – 846
Flight Time: 2hr, 30min
Route: NIBIS1 NIBIS SOAVI

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Flight Journal

After a couple of relaxing days in Mauritius, once again it’s time for our travelers to depart on the next leg of the long, around the world journey.  We’re picking up a brand new Airbus A320 which had been ferried to Mauritius from the Airbus factory in Tianjin, China.  Yes, it still has that “new” airplane smell to it.  This is an early morning departure and hopefully we’ll get out before the storms open up. In the photo below, our Airbus A320 is being fueled for the journey.  The new update to GSX and the features of the FSLabs A320 handle fueling automagically with nice eyecandy to watch.

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Our passengers have just arrived by bus and will immediately board the awaiting A320.

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We can’t push-back until the last of the bags have been loaded.

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Finally, the last bag was loaded (I believe that was mine) and now the ground crew will push us back while I begin the engine start procedure of the Airbus A320.

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Small airports mean short taxi distances.  Looks like the sun might just burn off these clouds after all.  We’re ready to go on runway 14.

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The FSLabs A320 is a joy to hand fly.  I’ve found the learning curve to be just slightly more difficult than the PMDG 737.  But then again, I have spent the majority of my simming time flying Boeing aircraft.  So learning the Airbus ways of doing things is similar to learning a second language.

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The A320 offers two different types of engine variants.  This particular aircraft uses the IAE (International Aero Engines) V2500 and they are doing an excellent job.

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The beautiful Air Seychelles livery looks amazing on the A320.

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Another wing shot as we fly over Madagascar.  I wonder how those Penguins are fairing?

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Another view of the coastline of Madagascar as we’re beginning our descent.  Not much longer to go.

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Just off the portside, we see a smaller island with a mountain and the main island mentioned earlier.  The smaller island (one with the mountain) contains the airport.  Our approach will take us around that smaller island.

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The view from the captains seat of the larger island.

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Our turn to final is coming up very soon.  Note the PAPI lights of the airport behind us.

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Again, the FSLabs A320 is a joy to hand fly.  Admittedly, I rolled out of that turn just a bit low.  But no worries, there’s nothing but water under us and we’ll be just fine.

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Two reds, two whites…we’re alright.

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On the ground and it looks like it will be an awesome day.

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Simulator Specifics

Prepar3d v4.3
ActiveSky Weather Engine
ActiveSky Cloud Art
Envtex & Envshade
Flight Sim Labs A320 (Air Seychelles livery)
Orbx Global Texture
VATSIM

Route Planning Tools

AivlaSoft PFPX
Navigraph Charts Desktop
FlightAware
FlightRadar24
SkyVector
Google Maps

Computer Hardware Specs

Our travelers will depart the smaller island later today by ferry to the larger island where their hotel awaits them.  A few days here, then we’ll depart and travel the 1200nm’s to O. R. Tambo International Airport in South Africa.  Since departing from Broom, Australia…we’ve been hopping from one island to another.  The next half dozen legs will keep us on the African continent as we begin our eventual northern journey up the western coast of Africa and into Europe.

Until next time….

Jerry

Aerosoft Airbus for Prepar3d v4 Release Date Announced

Aerosoft Airbus for Prepar3D v4 Release Date Announced

Ladies and Gentlemen…the wait is almost over.  Earlier today, there was a not-so-public announcement regarding the date which we could expect the highly anticipated release of the Aerosoft Airbus A318/A319/A320 & A321 series for Prepar3d version 4.x.

The announcement was posted in the Aerosoft forums by Mathijs Kok (see below)

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What?  You didn’t see the release date?  OK…hang on, let me try this again……

Is this any better?

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LOL  Yes, it was hidden in white text and one needed to simply highlight the area to see the special hidden message.  But just in case you still can’t see it, the target date for release of the Aerosoft Airbus A3xx series for P3D v4 is 26 June.

This is really great news for the flight sim community.  Especially those who have made the move to P3D v4.  It feels like a mini-lifetime since I’ve flown the Airbus.  I’m mostly a Boeing guy, but I did purchase the Aerosoft Airbus series for FSX and used it in P3D up to version 3.x.  I must admit that I was never that proficient in the Airbus and I’ll certainly be starting over from scratch at learning her once again.  But I’m really excited for this release for a few reasons.

First, while I’m mainly a Boeing fan, I do enjoy flying a variety of aircraft and truly enjoy simulating many different airlines both in the US as well as in the UK and Europe.

Second, I’ve been following the progress of the Aerosoft Airbus for P3D v4.x from day one of the release of the sim platform.  While others managed to get their older 32 bit versions of their aircraft converted to 64 bit compatibility, Aerosoft took the approach of practically rewriting the entire aircraft series (or much of it) and states that many aspects of the Aerosoft Airbus A3xx Series will be the most advanced you’ll see.

Third, and this is the most important.  Upon installing the Aerosoft Airbus A3xx series we won’t have to worry about any malware being hidden inside the installer.  The same can’t be said of the FSLabs version as reported here.

Fourth, while pricing information hasn’t been made public just yet.  Mathijs Kok has stated multiple times that Aerosoft does not charge twice for the same code.  In other words, if you purchased the Aerosoft Airbus for FSX, you’ll only be charged for the code which has been modified to ensure it’s compatibility for P3D v4.  This is extremely fair.

So 26 June is a Tuesday.  I’ve already marked my calendar to remind me a day or two before.  Between now and then I’ll re-watch some of the older procedure videos and be ready to purchase, download and install both packages (A318/A319 & A320/A321) into my sim.

I can’t wait…

Until next time…

JT

The Rock of Gibraltar

I’m increasing my collection of add-on scenery for the European region and just recently purchased the Aerosoft version of Gibraltar LXGB for FSX.  This is a fantastic little airport and reminds me of my St. Maarten TNCM package I have from FlyTampa.  I currently own scenery from Aerosoft, FlyTampa, FSDT, Orbx, and UK2000 and truly love them all. 

I suppose one can quickly go broke on purchasing add-on scenery.  One criteria I attempt to use in making a decision on whether to purchase a particular scenery package is the frequency I think I may use it along with just how much more the scenery package will enhance FSX.  I really enjoy the KMIA to TNCM route in either a 737 or 757.

I’ve recently performed a lot of flights out of both London Heathrow and Gatwick, so adding those packages from UK2000 was an easy decision.  I also picked up the UK2000 package for London City as that is a really neat airport and one I fly into in real life every other year or so.  Plus I’m really looking forward to completing the EGLC-EINN-KJFK flight in an Airbus 318 soon.

Another factor I use in my decision is the level of difficulty a particular airport may offer.  Perhaps better known as the “Wow” factor.  I watched a History Channel program a few years ago called “Most Extreme Airports”.  Gibraltar is identified as the 5th most extreme airport.  If you are not familiar with this History Channel program, or just want to watch it again.  It is available onYouTube.  Fast forward to minute 33:00 for the Gibraltar LXGB segment.

Our simulated flight today is the British Airways flight 490 from London Heathrow to Gibraltar in the Airbus A320.  Gate to gate time is 2 hours and 50 minutes.  Our departure from Heathrow was uneventful.

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Our route today

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BAW490 departing EGLL runway 27L

Conditions for Gibraltar are showing winds 090 at 6kt.  We’ll be landing on runway 09 which is the more difficult approach. 

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Thick clouds and light turbulence as we approach the southern coast of Spain.

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Clearing as we continue the descent. 

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Approaching Victor

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Flying the published approach and configured at gear down and flaps 3 upon crossing the 5 mile radar fix.

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Beginning the turn after crossing the 3 mile radar fix.  Airport and runway clearly in sight.

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Just a slight cross wind and hoping the aircraft ahead will soon exit the runway.

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BAW 490 Clear to land runway 09.

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Slowing with plenty of runway to spare.

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At the gate.

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The Rock of Gibraltar in the background.

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Terminal at Gibraltar

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Additional detail shown for the LXGB scenery.  Need to watch those towers on departure.

All-in-all I’m very pleased with my purchase of the Aerosoft Gibraltar scenery for FSX.  If you like flying into and out of some of the worlds most extreme airports where weather, neighboring obstacles, traffic and shorter than normal runways are the featured attraction, then Gibraltar is an add-on I recommend. 

Now to return back to Heathrow along with 127 vacationers and crew so that we can plan the next adventure.

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

JT

Merry Christmas Flight

As previously mentioned in my blog, I’ve really been having a lot of fun flying for British Airways virtual.  I’ve accumulated many hours since joining just about a month ago and my travels have taken me to many European destinations.  Since reaching Senior First Officer, I’ve been really having fun in the Level D 767.  I’m only a handful of hours away from Captain and looking forward to some long haul routes.

It just so happened that I arrived back to London Heathrow from a flight I made yesterday down to Cyprus and decided today (Christmas Eve) that I would fly to Israel in time to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  This simulated flight is the British Airways BA163 from London Heathrow to Ben Gurion (LLBG) in Tel Aviv, Israel.  Gate to gate time is just under 5 hours.

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Our Route

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It’s a crisp winter morning as the sun is just starting to rise on the capitol city.  Our Airbus A321 is getting catering service.

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Can’t forget to load the bags and cargo items.

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Passengers have boarded, aircraft fueled and time for pushback.

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The weather this morning is dry with a nice steady breeze from the west. Holding short runway 27L waiting for a company Airbus A319 to depart.

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It’s our turn, BAW163, Position and Hold runway (line up and wait) 27L. 

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Climbing out with London Heathrow in the background.

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Beginning our gradual turn to join the departure route.

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Approx. 4 hours later we begin our descent.

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Beginning our turn to join ILS for runway 12 at LLBG.

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Almost there…

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Parked and unloading our passengers. We were just a few minutes late as I performed a hold waiting for other inbound traffic.  Great flight!

This flight was a lot of fun (aren’t they always).  I hope you have some time over the holidays to spend time flying in the virtual world.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

JT

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