Chock

Chucking the FSL A320 about a bit...

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Bit intensive on PC resources (and wallet resources too at over a ton in Sterling lol), but it's understandable in both respects when you see what a good job they've done of emulating EADS attempt to drag all us old stick and rudder types into the 21st Century. Anyway, I figured it was time for a bit of Toulouse-style chuck it about Gallic panache-type test flying to see if any PC performance issues occurred. Apparently not, it seems in spite of the complexity, it plays nice with the Steam version of FSx. All in all a worthy rival to PMDG's 737NG if you fancy emulating the real-world rivalry between the two most commercially successful airliners on your PC. Not sure if any aeroplane could split me from my love affair with the good old 737, but I reckon on simulated versions, of the pretty hard-core variety at least, if anything could do it, it'd be the FSL A320.

 

Hmmm, now, if I could just find a four year old to show me how the A320 systems work, after they've explained to me how my DVD player works...

 

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This may help a little with understanding the A320's FCU, which is one of the main areas of difference to the 737 :-

 

Boeing LNAV = Airbus 'Managed Heading' (heading bug PRESS)

 

Boeing HDG = Airbus 'Selected Heading' (heading bug PULL)

 

Boeing FL CH = Airbus 'Open Climb/Descent' (Heading bug PULL)

 

Boeing VNAV = Airbus 'Managed Climb/Descent' (Heading bug PUSH)

 

Boeing VS = Airbus 'VS' (Vertical Speed Pull)

 

Boeing ALT HOLD = Airbus 'Level' (Vertical Speed Push)

 

.....once you understand these comparisons, it makes operating the A320 under AP a lot more straightforward.

 

As a Boeing might take off in LNAV/VNAV mode (flight director), so an A320 will take off in Managed Heading (Nav) and Managed Climb (Climb) modes.  These are engaged automatically on take off in the A320, as long as the FD is set on, and a flight plan and INIT/PERF pages are completed in the MCDU.

 

If you were in a 737 in VNAV mode, but wanted to override an altitude constraint and keep climbing, you'd press FL CH, similarly in the A320 if you were in Managed Climb (Climb) mode and wanted to override an altitude constraint, you'd engage 'Open Climb' (equivalent to FL CH) by pulling the alt knob.

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Cheers. Although I was joking a bit to be honest, it was me who produced the Standard Operating Procedures manuals for the A320/A321/A330 for a few airlines such as MyTravel Airways, Viking and Thomas Cook Airlines a few years ago. So if they're doing it wrong in the real A320, it's my fault lol :-)

 

Funny story about that by the way: when they sent me a pic of an aeroplane of theirs to put on the cover of their A330 SOP manual when we were doing the artwork for it, they sent a pic of a Boeing 767 for the cover of the A330 manual by mistake (I suppose the 767 and the A330 do kind of look similar to a non-plane person, and Thomas Cook used both types), but on the picture they sent it actually said (admittedly in small letters) on the side of the plane just below the cockpit: Boeing 767, so they should have spotted the mistake really. I pointed it out to them, and said I'd get a pic of an A330 to use, and they said: 'oh it'll be alright, just use the one we sent', and I'm like: 'no way, some pilot's gonna pull that book out off the shelf in the cockpit of their A330 when they've got a problem and think they've got the wrong manual. Trust me on this, I'll get a pic of the proper aircraft.' So I ended up using a pic of the correct aeroplane I got off Airliners.net lol

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0 for a few airlines such as MyTravel Airways, Viking and Thomas Cook

 

Hey Alan,

If you haven't explored FSL's sections of user liveries...I painted a a few you mentioned if you're interested in them...

rAxYLU.jpg

 

FRp8ds.jpg

 

And you didn't mention Condor, but I did this one for fun...drawing the Janosh characters on her.  She had TC on the back of the fuse however...so was she Condor or TC?.... :smile:  

x80OFl.jpg

 

She's a great bird to fly, but I parked her in the desert until we can fly her in P3D...I had to take FSX off my system.  I hoping its soon, I need a dose of Airbus every once in a while when I want to scramble the brain that's in its Boeing comfort zone. "Retard, Retard"....oh to hear those words again as I'm concentrating on greasing the landing.  :He He:

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So just how hard does the FSL Airbus hit the frames compared to other popular addons?

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Pretty pics.  Question is, will I finally get the NGX for P3D or just go with a second A320.  I just, in fact, bought a joystick to put next to my yoke.  Now, if I can keep the two from conflicting...

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Great pics, funny story! ;-)

Oh, I just can't wait for FSL to bring their work of art to P3D...

I've been an "early adaptor" to the FSX version, but I've uninstalled FSX because I ran out of space on my SSD. This piece of software is really so incredibly realistic and immersive!

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Chock,

 

how did you find the accuracy of the systems and the plausibility of the overall physics ( flight dynamics and ground ) modeling in the FSLabs Airbus ?

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Right, two questions to answer it seems...

 

First up, frame rates, it's not as bad as you'd think actually. Obviously FSL disclaimer things a bit with the minimum systems requirements as all developers do, just to err on the safe side as you'd expect them to - I have a bit less RAM than their recommended minimum for the A320 on the FSx (Steam version) and it still seems to work ok. Anyhow, I found that it's perhaps ever so slightly more hungry for resources than PMDG's 737NG, i.e. if you got 40fps with the PMDG 737NG, on average I'd get maybe five or so FPS less with the FSL A320, so reckon on it having perhaps 20 percent more demands on your system than the PMDG 737NG and you're gonna be in the ballpark, i.e. not bad when you see all the splash screens briefly pop up for all the sub routine stuff it loads in when you click the fly now button in FS.

 

As far as systems go and plausability/realism, the first thing I noticed was that the engines spool far more realistically than most FS airliners, and that's something which straight away indicates how accurate things are before we even get into avionics systems realism. Everyone knows that what was perhaps the most notorious - indeed first ever - A320 mishap of the kind which were depressingly common to the type when all that A320 FBW malarkey was new to pilots, was when Air France Flight 296 ploughed into the trees at Mulhouse-Habsheim Airport airshow. The cause of which was - in addition to the crew being unaware of the wider implications of FBW flight envelope protection when showing off at an airshow - essentially bad planning of the airshow routine on the part of Air France and the pilots, in that they arrived at LFGB expecting the crowds to be aligned in a certain way suited to their planned fly-bys, but found that not to be the case upon arrival at the airfield and so they, rather ill-advisedly did an ad-hoc routine (never a good idea). Having not reconnoitered the airfield, which is essentially a GA airfield, they didn't take into account the trees at the end of the runway and did a fly-by at 30 feet AGL down the runway instead of 30 metres AGL, as the flight plan (which, stupidly, was handed to them right before take off) dicated. So of course when they saw the trees, they tried to pull up, but the A320's alpha protection mode kicked in and restricted the AoA, they then rammed the throttles forward for more thrust so it would let them pull up, but the CFM-56 engine takes about five seconds to go from flight idle to about 90 percent thrust, so pulling back on the stick did nothing as the system on the A320 basically said: 'je suis desole mon ami, not enough airspeed, I'm staying at 30 feet'... Kaboom.

 

The point of me mentioning all that, is that I'm sure like me, you always cringe when you see some actor playing an airline pilot in a movie, and they grab the thrust levers and ram them all the way to the stops for the take off, which of course you never should do since if one of the engines spools a bit slower then the other cos you didn't move both levers exactly the same, you'll induce an aysmmetric thrust swing and be off the runway before the rudder has effective airflow. And in the FSL A320, you'd better do it properly as well and avoid that movie pilot nonsense, because those engines on the FSL A320 behave exactly like the real thing (I know, I timed it), and they sound like them too, which is another very noticeable feature. This also means you've got very realistic ground handling behaviour as far as taxying is concerned, so you're already saying 'wow' before you've even got to the holding point, because the steering is spot on as well and is a great reason to have either a seperate control for the tiller, or at the very least, some rudder pedals for a bit of differential braking. You can actually do a single engine taxi in the FSL A320 too, which if you are a nerd, is cool because sometimes that is an airline SOP. I checked the numbers against the real SOP and sure enough, it can take up to 40 percent N1 to get rolling depending on the ground conditions, but once rolling, it needs little to nothing other than idle to keep going, as is the case in a real A320 at most weights. You'll notice nice stuff in the modeling wjhich is again spot on, such as when engine anti-ice is on, as per the real thing, the thrust goes considerably higher (from 18.4 N1 to 27.3 N1 at idle). That's something which the real SOPs warn pilots about.

 

As most people are aware, it has taken a decade for any developer to grasp the nettle of realistically doing an A320, yes there are quite a few FS A320s, from Wilco to Just Flight et all (and don't get me wrong here, I like them for what they offer too, since for one thing, the Just Flight F-Lite A320s are about a fifth of the price of the FSL one and are ideal for a quick blast around if you don't wanna spend 30 minutes prepping the cockpit), but the FSL one is the first one to have really pulled it all off to the point where a real A320 pilot could usefully use this simulated one to practice stuff on, with all modes - normal, alternate, abnormal, direct and mechanical reversion - all simulated realistically. So now we've got two Airbuses which are very realistic, the other one being the Simcheck/Aerosoft A300B4-200 (which yours truly reviewed for Avsim when it came out). Yup I know, that one is not exactly a FBW modern EADS wonder, in that it even has a traditional yoke and an old-school INS, but it is the only other FS Airbus which captures the spirit of the real aeroplane.

 

As far as navigational systems are concerned, these seem to be pretty much as per the real deal too. I've not had much chance to fly long flights on the FSL A320 yet, but from what I've seen so far, it looks like a very faithful representation of what you'd find on a real A320, although you should keep in mind that there can be differences in customer options for the A320 beyond simply choosing CFM 56s or IAE V2527s, For example, in the My Travel and Viking A320s which I did the SOPs for, the nav database did not have certain modes validated, i.e. you couldn't use managed vertical guidance in IMC conditions until a much later in service date, when those were subsequently authorised, which is why SOPs are in a ring binder, so you can insert revisions. This is why you get rows on pprune.org, where one pilot says 'the 737 has this system' and another says 'no it doesn't' usually they are both right, because they fly for different airlines and each airline has different specs on the aeroplanes in their respective fleets. That's actually why I still use the iFly 737NG as well as the PMDG one, because they actually model slightly different airline specs. But in general, it seems to emulate a decently specced typical A320 with very accurate and realistic systems modeling.

 

So yeah, in short, this is THE Airbus A320 if you like realism. It's been a while coming, but it's finally at the gate. So if your fantasy when the cabin crew go: 'oh no, both pilots had the chicken vindaloo for lunch and now they're both unconscious, can anybody on board fly a plane?', with a few hours in the FSL A320, you could probably step up and go: 'just chill baby, I can fly this thing with my eyes shut.'

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lol the 'chicken vindaloo' situation is something (i might safely bet) almost all airliner simpilots have secretly wished for :P  ! and being an indian i might take offense ; ppl dont faint after eating chicken vindaloo ! ............... unless after the meal their legs go numb from sitting at the toilet seat and the blood flow decreases to such a level that they faint ,yup thats a possibility albeit extremely rare :D

andd @jcomm:

 

from reading around your posts on avsim , i can losely infer that you are a sucker for systems depth or at least realistic flight modelling ,and having used the FSLa320 for a long while now , i am sure you will love it !

 

Kind regards,

 

jaff

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I agree that there is a lot of fear around over the FSL's FPS and VAS performance, and that put me off buying it for some months ......... the reality (for me at least, with a reasonably modest system) is that it's absolutely fine. I get similar performance to with the NGX.   The main thing is that I have reduced some settings in FSX so that the priority is smooth frames and no risk of VAS problems.

 

The main thing I do to prevent problems, is that I use the 1024 texture version of the A320-X.    I have autogen at sparse (fine for complex airliner flights), and no AI traffic.  That aside, other settings are fine - I have plenty weather and clouds going on - no issues - and I landed at Aerosoft Malaga last night, with 40 FPS in the VC, on the ground.

 

As long as you are sensible with your settings, I find FPS and VAS no problem with this bird.

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Great review and info Chock!  Thank you SO MUCH!

 

I was really in the need to read some good, informative, objective review about the FSLabs A320! Now I found one and it took you just a few paragraphs to say all I needed to read!

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ppl dont faint after eating chicken vindaloo !

 

jaff

 

Yup, it's the 15 bottles of Cobra which accompany the chicken vindaloo that are the culprit. :-)

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Yup, it's the 15 bottles of Cobra which accompany the chicken vindaloo that are the culprit. :-)

nice ! haha :)

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