The Airbus A320 is the European response to the widely popular American Boeing 737. The Airbus A320 (hence referred to as the A320) is a short to medium, narrow body airliner which took its first flight in 1987, and was delivered just over a year later in 1988. The A320 family consists of four members, the A318, A319, A320 and the A321 all similar, though they are different sizes. On October 31st 2010 Airbus announced 4453 A320 family aircraft had been delivered, with 4370 in active service today making it the fastest selling jet airliner according to records from 2005 - 2007.
With most reviews I produce, I like to note a few things in the introduction about what the developer claims they have done with the aircraft. Aerosoft have listed on their site that their Airbus X has the following:
-Extensive animations: Sunshades, APU door, pullout tables, windshield wipers, passenger and cargo doors, landing lights, Ground Power Unit, traffic cones, wheel chocks.
-Sounds: High definition sound set, with additionally over 100 sounds for VC.
-Lighting: Advanced lighting system that actually light up the scenery around the aircraft.
-Frame rates: Frame rates are comparable to default FSX airbus (that has 1/5th the polygons and almost no detailed systems).
-Manuals/Documentation: Normal Checklist, PF/PNF Procedure guide, Systems Manual, Normal Procedures Manual.
-Extensibility: Very open in design and Aerosoft invites people to change and extend this product.
-Airbus X Connect:
There are many more features and systems included in the Airbus, which can be noted on the Aerosoft’s Airbus X product page.
Installation and Documentation
Airbus X uses the same installer as other products from Aerosoft. If you haven't purchased a product directly from Aerosoft's website, then you will be happy to hear it is a very fluent and straightforward process to do.
Download the file given to you in your account (on Aerosoft's site). Once it is finished downloading, run the file and follow the steps. Once you have purchased it you receive a serial code to use in the installer, once it requests this, enter the email you used to purchase the product and the serial code, the product will verify the serial code and email and then install it.
Aerosoft have included a 140 page manual, split over seven parts in different headings on your way to learning how to operate this Airbus A320/321. I found this documentation to be very helpful in operations. The one thing I would have liked to have seen in the manuals would be on how to operate the autopilot on the MCP. I posted a question regarding this in the Support Forum, and I was quickly forwarded to an answer about the mouse wheel scroll button to operate it. Other than that, I did find it to be a good quality manual.
The Airbus A320 is the first in a series to represent a unique way in which the pilot flies; this is called Fly-By-Wire (FBW). You do not fly the aircraft; you fly the computer, which will fly the aircraft. Airbus implemented this into the Airbus to let the computer "confirm" that this is a safe way of flying the aircraft. Aerosoft have implemented the FBW into their Airbus X and it kicks in at 200 feet MSL, from feeling the controls whilst flying "manually" with the FBW, you had to focus on flying the aircraft.
If you wish to turn off the FBW, there are buttons on the overhead panel you can press which will let you fly the aircraft without the FBW. Though I am not an airbus pilot (but hope to be in the next 10 years), when the FBW was on, I did feel like I was in control of an actual Airbus, but when I flew it with the FBW turned off, I have to say, it did not feel like an Airbus would (more like the default A321 controls).
In conclusion to the Flight Dynamics, is the FBW good and how well does the autopilot operate? The flight dynamics created by Aerosoft into this aircraft are very accurate to what and how the real Airbus would operate, in my opinion.
A large majority of people, who fly in FSX, will be flying in the Virtual Cockpit. For many the VC will be a deciding factor of whether they will buy the product or not. Without hesitation, I am pleased to say that the Airbus X has one the best looking Virtual Cockpits on the market, it is up to par (or even better!) than the fantastic virtual cockpit from the PMDG JS41. Every little detail has been taken care of and represents what can be done with a Virtual Cockpit in terms of FSX details.
Some of the small details which simmers will enjoy in the VC are:
-Dust on the Pedestal;
As I mentioned in the small list above, this Airbus X has custom night lighting included, which looks fantastic and brings your cockpit to life at night. It is rare to see developers include such fantastic lighting in their products. Regardless if it is scenery or an aircraft, it's great to see what can be achieved when adding what I believe is an effective, simple rendition that all developers can take note of.
If an exterior is not accurate or not detailed enough, I generally will uninstall the plane as I cannot stand to be at FL350 looking at some ugly "object". This is not the case with this Airbus X. Aerosoft have included a fine looking exterior model of an aircraft that many will not hesitate to look at. For repainters, Aerosoft has included a large (over 700 MB) paint kit which can be downloaded to your account where you purchased Airbus X.
The default paints include:
There are what I believe could be HUNDREDS of repaints available for this aircraft on OZx by Jankees and other members, as well as on the Aerosoft Forums. If you look at the detail put into the model you do not need to look hard in order to find that there is no blurriness anywhere on the model.
One thing I will note with the exterior model is that Aerosoft have not included any wing flex as they claim it to be minimal on the aircraft. I was on a 3 hour flight to New Zealand on an A320 a few weeks ago and I made sure I could say 100% that I could see wing flex noticeably and I'm glad I checked this out. From the notes I had written, during turbulence and landing you could see the wings flex, it may not be as obvious as a 747, but I could clearly see it.
During the flight noted above, what I heard from Row 6A the engines sounded very accurate to what was heard in the virtual cockpit. I did notice that when activating the seatbelt sign the incorrect noise was heard on this Airbus X version, but this could be because of different countries (better yet, hemispheres as I’m in Australia).
Frame rates in the Airbus X are claimed to be as friendly as the default Airbus A321 in FSX. From what I can tell at a default airport with frames locked at 32FPS, they stayed the same. At a busy international airport (say FTX YBBN or YMML), I saw a dip in my frame rate between 8 and 20 FPS.
Now with the "default" FTX airports, at let's say YPPH I got 20-32FPS. I can't point a finger directly at Aerosoft (maybe I can at Orbx), but in most cases frame rates were acceptable. The FPS in the air was exactly at 31-32FPS at all times, taking into account REX Overdrive was also running during these flights and so was the HDR add-on.
Summary / Closing Remarks
Aerosoft’s Airbus X has not failed to impress me. Although it is a simplified version, it is an easy aircraft for any simmer to operate. If I could submit one wish in to Aerosoft, it would be to release an "Advanced Version Update” (perhaps with a small fee) with the proper MCDU functions and more complexity overall.
For $45USD, or $35USD if you’re a part of a virtual airline, I feel that compared to similar products on the market, (ie, the PMDG JS41, which is the same price, same high quality graphics, yet is more complex) this one is a bit overpriced by about $5. With that said, many people will not hesitate to purchase this aircraft for its amazing graphics in the Virtual Cockpit, Exterior Model and the Night Lighting.
What I Like About AirbusX
What I Don't Like About AirbusX
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