And here’s our 2nd interview with Lefteris Kalamaras, CEO FlightSim Labs. No more words are needed. I leave it up to Lefteris ….
With a complicated model like this one,
doesn’t it influence the FPS?
One of the biggest priorities during development of the A320-X is to ensure a smooth experience with the product. As such, we’re taking advantage of all the latest advances in code development, such as spreading systems processing through all available CPU cores, using fibers and multi-threading, facilitating simultaneous processing via parallelization techniques with lambda expressions and pushing code execution onto the GPU.
While all this might sound a bit too technical, the bottom line is that simulation of an aircraft addon is not successful if the pilot can see 200 FPS on their computer in a very stuttery fashion, but when they can see 60 or 70 in a fluid, consistent manner.
Ever thought of contacting McPhat Studios for external textures?
While Flight Sim Labs is a small software development shop, we try to keep all our development in-house. Our graphics department in particular, is one of the strongest and most hard-working in the flight simulation community. As such, we do all our own painting and the liveries that will be included in the final product will have been produced internally.
This does not mean, though, that we will not allow other specialized developers to produce their own renditions using our paint kit: Our priority is to our customer, first and foremost, so if there are more options to choose from, ultimately our customers benefit more.
In what depth are aircraft systems simulated, not related to Auto Flight?
We model every single aircraft system that exists in the real A320, that is flight-simulation related (i.e. we refuse to simulate a virtual toilet.
While you will unfortunately have to wait to see how in depth this is done, I’d like to give a small example that I demonstrated during our presentation at the Aerosoft FS conference in Munich last March, which involved what should have taken place when Captain Sullenberger decided that he had to ditch the A320 into the Hudson river after hitting a flock of birds which disabled both engines. Ordinarily, there’s a single button on the overhead panel, aptly named “Ditching”, which when pushed will close all outer hull surfaces, such as vents and valves.
While Captain Sullenberger didn’t end up using it, our simmers will actually have the ability to push it and observe that indeed, all surfaces, such as the pressurization Outflow Valve, will close, allowing time for the aircraft to float on water for a longer period of time.
This simulation comes both in the systems as well as in the visual model, with attention paid to even time the closing of the outflow valve as accurately as is done in the real aircraft.
Does the package comes with a comprehensive tutorial?
Customers of our Concorde-X are already familiar with how in-depth our efforts go in terms of providing knowledgeable but also novice simmers alike with a comprehensive manual. However, no manual can ever explain how to take a new aircraft from a cold-and-dark state into a full landing – this is done through our tutorial series.
While the A320-X tutorial isn’t done yet (it will be finished only after the product has gone into beta testing), your readers should fully expect that we’ll follow our own guidelines which allow a novice simmer to take our product and master it in their own time and at their own leisure.
Is the A32X the unique FSX model and if so, why is it different then others?
Every Flight Sim Labs product is unique in that it includes features never before seen in previous products (for example, the Concorde-X was the first product in the FSX market to provide a fully 3D animation of the ADI sphere inside the 2d panels, using techniques developed internally to show Direct3D surfaces inside a 2D gauge).
Our thirst for innovation is evident in the A320-X as well: It will be the first time any addon product for the simulation market will feature ARINC429 communications between systems, or ARINC424 database reading capabilities, just like the real aircraft – and, while the systems simulation goes to extremes, we also have, for the first time in such products, all-readable labels on the fuselage, wings and engines – even at extreme closeups, without any blurring or limitation.
Will FSLabs think about modeling for the X-Plane platform?
Never say never! We’re examining all options, but all I can safely say at this time is that the A320-X will be for Flight Simulator X only.
Does the manual(s) come with Aircraft System information or is it taken from the official Airbus manuals?
Again, I will refer your readers to our Concorde-X product, for an example of how the manuals are developed. As we are simmers too and we hate dry reading, we have made every effort to produce manuals that are not only readable by expert pilots, but can also be understood by the novice pilot – although there might be some cross-referencing involved.
However, to complement this, we provide several saved flight options that the pilot can load to set themselves up at various stages of flight, so they can understand a particular feature better.
On a scale from 50 to 100% real flight dynamics, where can I position the FSLabs A32X?
Simple answer, really: We are simulating the flight and engine models on the A320-X well outside the envelope of limitations evident in FSX. This means, for example, that the dry mass model follows data available in the weight and balance manual, with all payload stations specified to the real reference point by their horizontal arm moment.
The fuel system, as another example, departs from the static and simple “point in space” modeling found in other products – we have a dynamic fuel mass model inherited from the Concorde-X experience: the aircraft center of gravity moves according to the fuel quantity in the real %MAC range, so that trim settings will move accordingly to provide aircraft equilibrium.
When it comes to lift and drag, we carried out several hundred simulator tests to measure the Angle of Attack of the wing at various airspeeds and altitudes, from max speed to complete stall recovery. This provided us with thousands of data points to properly simulate all aspects of lift.
When it came to drag, we measured and calculated the pure ram drag of the aircraft engines, again through multiple hundreds of simulator tests, to calibrate our drag model coefficients appropriately. Fuselage and wing drag coefficients followed, so we were able to reproduce accurate N-1 and N engines idle descent flight paths at various gross weights. In short, the flight and engine models in our product are as close as it gets!
Does the 2D and/or VC cockpit comes in different panel colors?
There is a common misconception here when it comes to color variances in the cockpits of the real aircraft. While there are strict guidelines put in place by the manufacturer, there can always be slight differences in color – but not enough to be noticed by the common eye.
What you “do” notice, however, are variances between older and newer models – for example, the older FCUs that came with the EIS 1 system were lighter in their blue intonations than their newer EIS 2 siblings. Since we’re modeling EIS 2, the color variations are so negligible as to be unimportant to the pilot.
We do, however, have another ace up our sleeve regarding how the 2D and VC cockpits look like – I will only hint that they have to do with how long the simmer uses the product.
Does the model comes with a detailed Virtual Cabin?
Yes – there’s a virtual cabin included, in a lot of detail, but only in the external model. We firmly believe that our product has to accurately simulate all aspects of a real aircraft, but it would be quite useless to provide a virtual cabin to accompany the Virtual Cockpit, as it would only take away valuable polygons that could be used to better simulate the cockpit itself – and that’s where all simmers spend their time!
Does the A32X comes with liveries or will you offer separate livery packs?
We have a list of liveries that will be included in the product at no extra charge, however this list is still under revision so I cannot say for sure which paints will make the initial cut.
We intend, however, to provide all the well-known textures that are flying the real skies, as well as some lesser-known ones that we have been particularly amazed by, or they provide an extra element of fun in our simming. We will also offer a complete paint-kit so that other paint developers can provide their own at no extra charge.
Which hardware can be used … CH, Saitek, GoFlight, VRInsight etc.?
As your readers already know, Flight Sim Labs is also known for developing drivers for many successful hardware addon products to be used with various aircraft that are popular among simmers.
We have open channels with many hardware manufacturers who have sent us test products, so we’re happy to develop drivers for those hardware that are important to the flight sim community.
As we’re also targeting the semi-professional markets, we’re extending support to the larger hardware manufacturers so I invite interested parties to communicate with us if they want their hardware represented.
Does the model comes with an active Weather Radar?
The real question is: Does Flight Simulator X come with a proper simulation of virtual clouds. This question pops up time and again in our forums and elsewhere, but it’s always nice to clarify: In order to provide a proper weather radar and not some sort of mish-mash of what might or might not be there in front of the aircraft, there has to be information about a cloud’s droplet contents, as a true weather radar sends a radio beam which, when bounced on those droplets, is received back by the aircraft’s radar antenna.
As FSX does not properly simulate cloud droplet content but only cloud density (how thick the cloud is), it’s somewhat (to very) misleading to provide a weather radar which would measure cloud density – this is simply inaccurate.
We have heard, however, the requests of our customers for a WX radar simulation so we’re considering allowing such representation – but with the understanding that we do not particularly like the effect…
Did you use photographic material to rebuild your A32X VC?
We are using a combination of photographic material for background textures as well as repainting of labels and text to accurately represent the virtual cockpit without the blurring that occurs when using photoreal images only.
A lesson learned from the Concorde-X (where we spent countless hours fixing and retouching photographic images) shows that the result of combining the two efforts is far superior in nature than simply using one of the two methods and ignoring the other.
Are e.g. pop-up EFIS panels scalable, if applicable?
All panels for our Display Units are poppable, scalable, sizable, stretchable and movable. In fact, there’s nothing to prevent a simmer from having ten different representations of the Primary Flight Display simultaneously on their screen (except that it might be, well, a bit useless.
Performance is the same, throughout, we are very happy to report!
Is the model tested – as far as possible of course – and compared with a Airbus A32x FFS?
Yes, we tested several Full Motion Simulators and they all come very close to what we have simulated. After countless hours of measuring data in them, we have sometimes started confusing number outputs from the “real sim” as compared to ours.
We certainly hope that those among your readers that are fortunate enough to fly the real aircraft will attest to the fidelity scale and levels that we’ve achieved in the A320-X product.
That’s it for the moment.
A big thank you from all our developers at Flight Sim Labs goes to you and your readers for allowing us the space and time to explain a little bit about our product. We firmly believe that you’ll really like what we have done!
But don’t be sad.
This was our first try-out “Interview”. The next developer knows all about X-Plane and in particular Airbus models or to be precise, the Airbus A380. He lives far away from Europe in a warm and sunny country or island. He is German and owns “Peter’s Aircraft”. I’m taking about Peter Hager.
He will be our next guest with inside information about his Airbus A321.
For now … with greetings,
Angelique van Campen and Lefteris Kalamaras.