Thanks for the feedback re: review copies and ways to go forward from here. Simon, FT56 and I will look these over and go over the options available to us, and we’ll keep you posted. The donation button may be the way to go, or some combination of review copies and donations, or who knows what? Anyway. Thanks for the support, and we’re happy this blog has found a niche in this crowded world – thanks to you.
News that EADT is working on a 3D cockpit for their 737/8NG isn’t particularly hot off the presses, and a couple of images have been up for a few weeks, but we just wanted to let you know we’re working on the story and will have an expanded edition posted on this development as soon as we can wrap it up.
And in other news:
- PK Floats Inc. has earned a supplemental type certificate allowing Aviat Husky owners with PK2250A floats to increase gross takeoff weight by 50 pounds, up to 2,250 pounds. Owner Alton Bouchard does not plan to stop there. AOPA Online.
- Northeast Helicopters Flight Services plans to relocate to Massachusetts from Connecticut. The helicopter flight school was founded at Ellington Airport in Connecticut in 1974, but plans to build a new facility at Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport in Massachusetts. “We have outgrown Ellington and we have decided to relocate to Barnes,” said Rhonda J. Boulette, co-owner of the flight school. The Republican (Springfield, Mass.)
- Terrafugia performed the first flight of a prototype of the Transition flying car March 23, the company said. Terrafugia said the flight “demonstrated the controllability and safe operational characteristics of the aircraft.” The eight-minute flight reached an altitude of 1,400 feet after it took off from Plattsburgh, N.Y. AVweb
- The World Wildlife Fund and local agencies in South Africa arranged for an endangered black rhinoceros to be transported by helicopter to save it from poachers. The rhino was sedated before traveling upside-down on the tow rope of a helicopter. The black rhino is hunted by poachers for their horns. The Daily Mail (London)
- Embraer is continuing to test the Legacy 500, and says the midrange business jet should enter service at the end of 2013. The Brazilian aircraft manufacturer predicts 2012 will be a “pivotal year,” with demand from emerging markets for business jets. FlightGlobal.com (U.K.)
- Hawker Beechcraft extended the filing date for its 2011 annual report and predicted a loss of $482 million for the year. “We continue to work closely with our lenders toward a comprehensive recapitalization that will resolve these issues and better position the company for the future,” said CEO Steve Miller in a statement. The Wichita Eagle (Kan.)/Air Capital Insider blog; Hawker Beechcraft has to prove the company is still viable after warning of a loss for 2011, experts say. “My guess is that they sell off the T-6 [military trainer] line and shutter their business aviation programs to allow them to emerge as the world’s largest turboprop OEM,” said George Tsopeis, an aviation analyst. American City Business Journals/Wichita, Kan./BizTalk blog
- The FAA is updating Training Standards and manuals, and plans are well underway to vastly scale down the existing network of VOR NAVaids in the lower 48 United States.
We posted information a few weeks ago that AeroSOFT was producing BIKF + Keflavik International Airport along with EHAM and LSZH, and these three are to be the first new airports for X-Plane produced by AeroSOFT. On AeroSOFT’s blog, FSDG and XHT Labs are noted as the developers of this new Icelandic airport, and we were recently contacted by the team at XHT Labs to look over their latest RC (release candidate), and our first impression was that this is a sweet looking file.
To get oriented, Keflavik is located in far SW Iceland not quite thirty miles west of Reykjavík, and BIKF is roughly 2600nmi from KJFK and 1150nmi from EGLL. In the 1950s, when transAtlantic air service was in it’s infancy a lot of traffic was routed near/over Iceland for safety reasons (and for many years the US Coast Guard maintained standing patrols along these routes to handle any flights that had to ditch, even in winter!), Iceland was a key refueling port for westbound traffic. It was a vital link getting aircraft to England during WWII as well, and note that this airport was originally built as a USAAF air base.
Today it’s a different story…with ETOPs twin jets plying the North Atlantic trade, literally tens of thousands of passengers cross daily, and Icelandair, one of the very first “low cost, no frills” carriers still handles a sizable percentage of this traffic, and all their traffic funnels through BIKF – coming and going!
And to further prove the point, here’s the current list of carriers currently routing to and throughKeflavik:
|Air Berlin||Seasonal: Berlin-Brandenburg [begins 3 June 2012], Berlin-Tegel [ends 2 June 2012], Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart|
|Air Greenland||Summer: Nuuk|
|Austrian Airlines||Seasonal: Vienna|
|Delta Air Lines||Summer: New York-JFK|
|Germanwings||Seasonal: Cologne/Bonn, Stuttgart|
operated byHolidays Czech Airlines
Summer: Alicante, Barcelona [resumes 04 June 2012], Basel/Mulhouse [resumes 09 June 2012 ), Berlin Brandenburg [begins 03 June 2012], Berlin-Schönefeld, Billund [resumes 21 June 2012], Bologna [resumes 09 June 2012], Cologne/Bonn [begins 6 June 2012], Edinburgh [resumes 21 June 2012], Gothenburg-Landvetter [resumes 06 June 2012], Hahn [resumes 05 June 2012], Krakow [resumes 07 June 2012], London-Stansted [begins 5 June 2012], Paris-Charles de Gaulle [resumes 21 June 2012], Prague [begins 21 June 2012], Vilnius [begins 26 June 2012], Warsaw-Chopin
|Icelandair||Amsterdam, Boston, Copenhagen, Denver [begins 11 May 2012], Frankfurt, Glasgow-International, Helsinki, London-Heathrow, Manchester, New York-JFK, Oslo-Gardermoen, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Seattle/Tacoma, Stockholm-Arlanda
Summer: Barcelona, Bergen, Billund, Brussels, Gothenburg-Landvetter, Halifax, Hamburg, Madrid, Milan-Malpensa, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Munich, Stavanger, Toronto-Pearson, Trondheim, Washington-Dulles
Winter: London-Gatwick [begins 18 October 2012], Orlando-Sanford
operated by Air Iceland
|Summer: Akureyri [begins 7 June 2012]|
|Lufthansa||Seasonal: Berlin-Brandenburg [begins 7 June 2012], Düsseldorf, Hamburg|
|Norwegian Air Shuttle||Oslo-Gardermoen [begins 1 June 2012]|
Summer: Stockholm-Arlanda [begins 22 June 2012]
|Transavia France||Seasonal: Paris-Orly|
|WOW air||Alicante [begins 6 June 2012], Basel/Mulhouse [begins 16 June 2012], Berlin-Brandenburg [begins 5 June 2012], Cologne/Bonn [begins 5 June 2012], Copenhagen [begins 3 June 2012], Kaunas [begins 11 June 2012], Krakow [begins 4 June 2012], London-Stansted [begins 3 June 2012], Lyon [begins 9 June 2012], Paris-Charles de Gaulle [begins 8 June 2012], Stuttgart [begins 5 June 2012], Warsaw-Chopin [begins 4 June 2012], Zurich [begins 12 June 2012]|
And note that the XPFWProject’s 757/200 has both pax and trash-hauler paint available for Icelandair.
This airport will be for XP10, but we’ll check for function in v9 just in case! I think you’ll lose LIT textures but who knows at this point?
Right now the ramps in AeroSOFT’s “default/included” airports are showing up bare, and if I were to guess it’s probably because with XP10 and using AI aircraft many people may not want a lot of static ACF. Still, more ramp activity in the form of baggage carts and fuel trucks might make for a more lively, shall we say “immersive” experience? Visual chaos, anybody?
But in the end the almost perfect architectural rendition of the main terminal is enough to carry the day here. It’s just classic, well done material, and looks good night or day.
There’s a nice air cargo ramp in this package, and I draw your attention to the light towers in the image just above: they’re of excellent quality and v10/GI compliant. BTW, here are the air cargo operators currently operating from BIKF:
|Air Atlanta Icelandic||Bagram, Frankfurt, Kuwait City,Luxemburg|
|Icelandair Cargo||East Midlands, Liège, Humberside, New York-JFK|
|TNT Airways||Liège, New York-JFK|
|UPS Airlines operated by Bluebird Cargo||Cologne/Bonn, Cork, Edinburgh|
All told, this looks like an excellent package, and worthy of your consideration too, but there’s a larger element that concerns us and you might want to consider this long and hard before you decide to purchase, or not to purchase.
AeroSOFT has in a sense made a sizable strategic move (gamble?) to back X-Plane, and in much the same way Carenado did, and has. Like Carenado and the choice not to bring their latest and greatest to X-Plane, this AeroSOFT file is NOT a Mega-Airport type package, and as such probably doesn’t represent AeroSOFT’s “state-of-the-art”, yet I’ve seen images of many AeroSOFT airports and this one looks pretty good in comparison. So let’s just accept the airport for what it is and move on to the really important point.
I mean the really, REALLY important point.
First, let’s ignore the entire issue of Carenado’s coming to X-Plane last year and let’s look at AeroSOFT’s announcement that they were coming to XP last summer. And let’s look at this announcement in a “BIG PICTURE” kind of way.
Let’s assume there are indeed, as we mentioned yesterday, 2000 hard core users of XP. Further, let’s assume that a clear majority of this group has made the transition to XP10 and they are using v10 enough to consider it their main platform, and let’s be generous and call this number 1500 people. Compared to that 40,000 that MsFS/FsX assume is their “base” population, our 1500 is pretty thin. Consider too that sales of XP10 were brisk for a few weeks last December, but that sales have been reported to be “disappointing” since. Still, with casual users added to this mix, AeroSOFT could conceivably see significant sales.
Now, I’d like you consider something radically different from the trajectory outlined above.
Consider that a whole bunch of MsFS/FsX developers are watching how AeroSOFT’s products are accepted by our little community, and how many units they sell.
Do you see our dilemma?
If AeroSOFT sells a hundred or so units to the XP community their first few times out, they’re probably not going to be too thrilled about this but they’ve committed to this market so will, like Carenado, keeping working away at it. But what would the other devs watching our market think about this? What kind of signals would our little community be sending? Would they look at a tepid response and then conclude that it’s just not worth all the grief to convert (or make from scratch) new files – for a hundred unit market? When they’re used to sales in the thousands?
In other words, your reaction to this product release is probably being closely watched by a lot of people, and we mean very closely. Assume PMDG is watching, and looks at this and finds a hundred units sold, or FlyTAMPA or FSDreamTeam? Then what happens? Uh-huh, you got it.
Again, this is all conjecture on our part but we’ve noted that there have been no specific announcements by anyone other than PMDG concerning plans to move to XP (and oh yeah, PMDG did say at the Munich Conference last week that their first product for XP would be a “ported” project, which kinda sorta sounds like they’ve green lighted “the project”… Hey…I’m just sayin’…).
So anyway, when you finally look at this file in the AeroSOFT store, give these considerations some consideration, some real thought. We’ve been griping about not having any good FsX level scenery in XP for a long, long time. That’s about to change. I think it would a fine thing if we supported AeroSOFT in their endeavor, because a lot is riding on this. A lot more than meets the eye. A lot more than just a few scenery packages.
Release is noted as being “just days away”, so we’ll be on the lookout for this one and will advise when it’s out.
Samen’s A332F and A346 have been well received with their revised panels, and while the A332 pax model remains with the Mk 1 panel for now, Samen and the X-Plane Paintshop (XPP) have just released their latest Thomas Ruth based modified/conversion: the A330-300. Three versions are offered, with RR, GE, and PW engine options, and all included liveries are imaged below, including the goofy LIT tail on the Etihad variant that has the tail logo light on.
These are just a few “get acquainted” images for now, and we’ll have more on this series asap.
You can find these files at the XPP site, located here. Free registration required, and we’ll have more details this weekend.
And that’s about all we’ve got for now. Thanks for coming along with us, and we’ll seeya tomorrow. C&S