Friday, December 21, 2012

Airbus eXtended : a small review

FSX/P3D. At last. Available. Ready to download. And it's not a disappointment if you stand for a few minors bugs on hardware parameters. Here is a small and modest review. A digest for those who did not buy it yet. There is so much to say about this eXtended Airbus. We like !


Version tested : FSX V.1.0
New hotfix 1 installed (12/21/2012).
File size : 909 MB

Installation : Easy to complex, depending on your hardware and configuration. The installer is working fine and you just have to click on a few windows to install some files.
Manual : 7 files in English, 14 languages step by step flight.

Handling / Takeover :

If you already know previous Airbus (Wilco-Feelthere / Black Box / PSS... )
You will be able to handle "blues" checklist, flightplan, Init page etc.
But this Airbus is much requiring / constraining.
Some procedures must be followed precisely otherwise you will be facing issues, especially if you appreciate Boeing's philosophy. Nothing, in this Airbus, has been designed to assist you. It's not flexible like in the PMDG.

But ones you get this FBW computer driven philosophy, everything is simpler.

Utilities : 
Airbus Recorder Manager  : a very detailed utility to keep track of your flights.
Aerosoft Airbus X fuel planner.
Airbus connectExtended.
RAAS FS2crew : ATC voice, flightcrew voice etc.
Airbus brand new NavdataPro database (remark : on my first flight from KPHX to KLAX, J9 waypoint was not recognized).

Framerate :
Globally, from our test with an ATI HD6570 card and average settings,
Performance at Flightbeam Phoenix Intl : 14-17 FPS (against 20-23 for the NGX).
(processor I5 / 3,4 Ghz / 6 MB, Windows Seven, 64 bits, 1 screen 1280 x 1024 x 32 ).

Short comparison with PMDG NGX B-737/8/9

Aerosoft plans were never about doing a hard core aircraft to compete with the NGX. But even so, it's interesting to compare these two "blockbusters" of the sky.
- Graphics quality and resolution are almost rivalizing with the NGX. There is just a slight difference on resolution that can be seen, especially if you zoom on the markings in the virtual cockpit.
- Animations (pilot window can be opened), ATC voices (switchable), sounds, all these details are giving a much better immersion in the cockpit than inside the PMDG NGX.
- Flight dynamic : from the first flights, you can feel the improvements done to this part, compared with the first Airbus X. You can fly it on manual (without MCP) very easily.

The bad :

* Harware configuration. Many people encountered bugs with their yoke and interfaces. It's quite surprising that the editor did not pay more attention to this point. Some other aircrafts have been launched in 2012 (Coolsky DC9 Classic, QW BAE 146, CLS BAE146 etc..) and none of them have generate hardware incompatibility.
Aerosoft explains that this problem is due to the complete reprogramming of some FSX functions...
I found the right fix thank to the editor but it had consequences on other of my addons.

* Framerate is slightly lower than in the PMDG despite what have been said on this (3-5 fps gap).

* The air conditioner is too loud as in the previous version. It's like flying with a hair-dryer but i am confident that some tweaks are available if you are disturbed like me.

The good :

* Enhanced graphics compared with the Airbus X.

* More liveries, including internationals  (American, Virgin, etc..). Not 6 liveries but.. 31.

* Important discount for all previous owners of the first Airbus X (40 euros, with rebate : 20 euros).

* All the utilities included : new functionnalities for doors management, oors, RAAS FS2crew

* Light systems. Very effective. Even working during day light upon your request.

* Very long spin of life.

This screenshots shows the classic symptom of frozen textures
if you switch too often between external and virtual cockpit views. PMDG and here Aerosoft too, they just can't fix this. Good programming is not enough and i am not shure you can avoid these blank textures if you install the best RAM memory ever...

 The markings definition look slightly lower than in the PMDG NGX. This is a screenshot taken at Zoom x 8.

Much more details than in the first version.

* * * LIGHTS * * *

I am really impressed by the lights systems. Everything is working nicely.

* * * * *

External lights are really powerful. 

Most of all, Aerosoft has managed to tweak some effective lights during dawn/dusk time. I remember that in the Feelthere Wilco Airbus, that was a real issue and i was barely able to read my gauges. On the first screenshot, below, there are no specific light and the visibility is great. On the second screenshot, i pressed the L key and the virtual cockpit was suddenly enlighted as i was activating the dome light.

A last screenshot to show you the amount of views in this aircraft.

Conclusion :

 Fantastic progress since the first Aerosoft Airbux X, two years ago. And a really fair price for those who already bought it at that time. At last, this is our first encounter with a really well designed Airbus and the Fly-by-Wire is definitely mastered here. It's smooth, there are new utilities to enhance your immersion in this Airbus tech.
Two regrets though, simmers are to be really commited to this aircraft, to the manuals and to the forum support in order to understand everything and enjoy this new toy. And second, in this FS world, where every simmer is a passionate fan and possess at least one hardware (and Saitek is a very popular one), hardware issues are simply unforgivable. We already have our lives, our work, our problems, we don't have any more time to spend on a yoke configuration.
The good think is that we have plenty of time to learn this new aircraft, to domesticate it. And thanks to Aerosoft, FSX is definitely in it's prime.

A special tribute to Aerosoft. The team has been always there to share the progress of the project, spending a lot of there personal time on this. And they are still dedicated now to add the last tweaks and hotfixes. Congratulations.

Thanks !

Airdailyx December 2012


Anonymous said...

I5 / 3,4 Ghz / 6 MB,ati6570 and 17fps on medium settings.

After short consideration of all fors and against I'll stay on FS9 for next couple of years with my Wilco Airbus and locked 30fps :)

Still nice review though.

Anonymous said...

What I've noticed:

1) There's only one switch for both cockpit flood and integral lighting so you either get full blast or nothing, which is unfortunate. I think this switch also triggers the cabin and logo lights.

2) Fonts still look unrealistic but it could be solved with a 3rd party mod

3) Time compression is not officially supported but 2x can be used. It's a "Meh" for me but if they decide to transfer the software platform to the A330/A340 this could be a huge problem as they can fly 10-16 hour sectors. (I wasn't surprised by this because Airsimmer had the same restriction as well, due to a limitation of FBW systems.)

4) You can save the panel state but you cannot save the FMGC route data, although I've heard that it's going to be included in a future update though. Ideally it should be like PMDG where it autosaves and autoloads panel states and route data when saving/loading flights, plus a manual save/load panel state function as well.

5) Checklists cannot be triggered independently and follows a 'hard' path from before start to shutdown. In one flight I took a visual shortcut during the approach and the landing checklists didn't trigger as the system got stuck. Also I don't think the system allows for RTOs although I haven't tried it yet.

6) The right MCDU could use a dummy MCDU page as the current "FS Actions/Options" page doesn't look like something that belongs to a real MCDU. A 'PROG' or 'SEC FLIGHT PLAN' page like the PMDG MD11's 3rd CDU would be nice.

7) No support for 3rd party flight planners like FSBuild in the 'CO RTE' section. Tried loading a default FSX XML flight plan but it didn't exactly work either.

8) Calculated TOD is optimistically late, although I think they're working on a patch.

9) No integration between checklists and AES/GSX. It gets confusing during pushback.

10) AFAIK No calculation of Optimum and RECommended MAXimum cruise altitudes.

All in all, The Airbus X Extended is still pretty good value for 40 Euro and is relatively well polished and bug free, although I must say I expected more from 'Aerosoft's biggest project ever'.

Anonymous said...


The only reason I need to NOT buy this product and wait for something...better.

Anonymous said...

It appears like aerosoft tried their very best, and now we have to wait till fslabs gets their crap together. Honestly, randazzo and pmdg have spoiled us as to what is possible within this platform and anything less than that is now a major letdown.

Anonymous said...

Just an update, there does seem to be support for AES but it must be manually enabled.

Anonymous said...

How can you say something like that?!

Anonymous said...

Easy, not up to my standards when throwing money at a product. I am not easily amused as much of the community is with sub-par product at high-quality prices.

Anonymous said...

One thing I learned in the real world, Don't waste your time comparing Boeing to Airbus.
Comparing the PMDG with it's over the top budget, amount of developers and timeline it took to develop is not a fair comparison.It's made so many simmers babies.

DMac10121 said...

It's an awesome aircraft, well designed, modeled, etc... The only thing that gets to me is the lack of wing flex, which should be easy enough to add in, but without it you can definitely tell, especially with the NEO variant.

Bill said...

As and update, to anyone reading this, I think the latest patches have increased the FPS! I would say on my system the Airbus Extended now gives a tad more FPS than the NGX. 36 to say 30 at a payware airport with heavy REX clouds.

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