Incredibly realistic 3D flight simulator

X-Plane | Macworld

The flight simulator is so sophisticated that it gives you the tools to create your own airplane and scenery, too. There are tons more available online, as well. I last looked at X-Plane in , when the 6. Laminar Research, the developer behind this simulation distributed in stores by GraphSim Entertainment , never sits still.

X-Plane is in constant development: Gone are the quilted patchwork of different terrains and jagged contours, replaced by more natural-looking scenery. Mountains and valleys look as they should for the most part. Realistic simulation is a cornerstone of the X-Plane design philosophy, so you can also plot out weather patterns and even download weather real-time from the Internet, simulate system failures to test out your piloting skills under adverse conditions and much more.

X-Plane maps out the locations of 18, airports, and you can even take off and land from aircraft carriers at sea, if you wish. If flying into orbit is your game, X-Plane can help you here, too: It is a change to Airfoil Maker and the airfoil files that we distribute! If you want to realize this new accuracy in your personal or third-party aircraft, then fire up Airfoil Maker and do the batch-update to update all of your airfoils. So, for third-party aircraft-makers, do a batch-convert on your airfoils in Airfoil Maker, and then re-test any post-stall flight that you want to.

You will see that the drag is initially higher than in previous versions of X-Plane. Propeller and propwash modeling improvements: Now in Plane Maker, engines screen, you will notice some really cool new stuff. Ellipse ratio: Enter a value of 1. Now in addition to the helix-angle prop-twist, we add some AOA to the blades to get us to the optimal AOA for the airfoil… with some washout near the tip to reduce induced drag if desired.

X-Plane 8.0

And in X-Plane, the propwash is now much nicer: This increase in propwash speed over distance is modeled after charts showing inflow of air into the prop disc, watching the air accelerate as it is pulled into the disc, and pressurized to continue speeding up behind the disc! Hit the control-m key a few times while looking at a propeller airplane at full thrust and not moving or slowly moving to really see this effect. Downwash modeling improvements: With update from NACA tech reports on observed downwash, we now see the same thing on airliners of that configuration in X-Plane!

So, the technical reports have been taken into X-Plane, and the results match flight-test on large aircraft where these pitch changes can be most precisely measured. Engine improvements: Better jet engine modeling: We now have single-spool and twin-spool jets selectable in Plane-Maker! Now, you can select single or twin-spool jets in Plane-Maker to really get the jet engine dynamics better in the spool-up and spool-down, watching N2 lead N1 on the spool-up, or the other way around on the spool-down.

I have validated this model against careful recordings of engine starts and throttle run-ups and shut-downs taken on a real Airbus A to make sure they match perfectly. As well in Plane Maker you can specify the correlation between N1 and N2, so even though the two can turn freely from each other, aero loads will ultimately drive them to the ratio you specify in Plane Maker which varies with N1 and N2!

Nice little improvement in the manifold pressure model for non-turbo airplanes ones where you entered critical altitude of zero in Plane Maker engine window , where the sim now understands that lower back-pressure at altitude for non-turbo airplanes provides a bit more power per inch of manifold pressure. So, a nice little bit of improvement in the manifold pressure model. Nice little carb ice improvement: We now look at the actual dynamic pressure and resulting Bernoulli effects in the Venturi tube itself to see when ice will form!

So this is a nice way to use physics to predict carb ice. Free N1 turbo old: This is the PT6 turboprop model from X-Plane for many years now, where the N1 is used as the compressor Ng in the real engine. This is a rather old model, and using N1 for Ng is perhaps a bit awkward, when you understand how the real engine works. Free N2 Turobrop: This is the new model, which is more accurate and very carefully matched to real PT6 performance.

This uses N2 for Ng, which makes a lot of sense, when you understand how the real engine works. As well it uses N1 for the turbine that is attached to the prop, so the N2 drives the torque, and the N1 is spun by that, just like a high-bypass turbofan engine. So, this use of N2 for the Ng makes much more sense, and the model is more accurate as well, so this is the new turboprop model that you should use.


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Fixed turboprop: Unchanged for years, roughly modeled after the Garret turboprops. A much better Garret model is indeed coming! Jet 1 spool: This is the jet engine model from X-Plane for many years now, and is simply not as good as it could be. This model always has the N1 spinning at a ratio to N2 that was a simple power curve.

It was just barely good enough to work, but not as good as I want for X-Plane now. Jet 2 spool: This is the new jet engine model for X-Plane: The N2 is the power turbine in the hot section, spinning up and down as fuel is applied. This is more accurate, since N2 can surge while N1 takes some time to respond, and N1 can windmill briskly even if N2 is shut down and barely spinning.

X-Plane 11 Demo Flight B737 Circuit @ KSEA Cold/Dark Full AP ILS

So this is a nicer model because each system can spin up or down ahead of the other to really bring those dynamics into the sim! Body drag and sideforce improvements: Look at the fuselage and nacelle and misc bodies section in Plane Maker: So, this is a really nice way to get a good guess at the Cd for an airplane fuselage, and all the other parts on the airplane. Historically, people have not known what Cd to enter for the fuselage and other parts, so this is a really nice way to get a good estimate based on known skin friction drag and wetted area and aspect ratio.

Also, we have refined the side-force on bodies tp be more accurate, and also improved WHERE on the fuselage that side-force is applied! So the bodies now have better lift and drag estimates, as well as proper placement of that force at the right point on the body. So how to find out? I need to find the pivot point of a streamlined body at various angles of attack… how to do that?

And this is very cool: Ditto the parts of wings that are inside of engine nacelles!

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This takes away that little bit of lift on twin-engine props, for example, that have the nacelles hiding away part of the wing! This adds a nice little extra bit of realism, especially if you have wings going inside the fuselage or something like that, where the wings do not see any air and therefore need to be removed from any airflow. You see, the simplified theory says that the lift of the wings goes across the fuselage, but we are now better than that: We now find the lift and drag and location for those forces on the fuselage and nacelles and all other bodies, so the time has come to take the wings OUT of the bodies so lift is not double-computed!

So that is the next level of realism, and is done automatically: Just hit control-m a few times in the external view when in flight to see how the lift vectors of the wings are gone for all parts of the wings that are hidden away inside a fuselage, nacelle, or misc body. A few tweaks for gliders: We now have give tow and get tow and also get winch locations.. As well winches we have speed commands: Trim and flight control deflection times are now a bit better: When you enter the deflection time of either flight control or trim in Plane Maker, X-Plane automatically scales that time DOWN for deflection-directions that are smaller in magnitude.


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So the control or trim SPEED is the same in both directions, even if the deflection is smaller in one direction than another. This holds constant trim speeds and control deflection speeds, regardless of direction and deflection, which is how the mechanical systems typically behave in reality. Various systems improvements: Also, for other flight-model improvements, we now have: Flap lockout if wings are swept.

This keeps the flaps from deploying by mistake when the wings are swept, as is done in the real F Sweep lockout if flaps are down.