Airfoil Labs C172 SP

Yet another Cessna review, but wait before you browse further this one is quite different from the others. This one should have very in depth study level realism, like A2A Accusim product line does for FSX/P3D but this add on aircraft is for X-Plane 10 only.

So how in depth you say, well you can do a full virtual walk around and check every control surface like you would be really there. Correct me if I’m wrong cause I’m relatively new to X-plane but I do believe this is the first aircraft add on for X-Plane to feature this. Keep note that this add on is currently still in development as more features will be available after regular updates. I will be reviewing the latest update V1.40

Airfoil Labs

Never heard of Airfoil labs? Well sounds pretty normal as they are a new Czech development team and they just developed their first add on aircraft for X-plane. Now honestly, tell me which other aircraft would be better to make a full in depth project about than the C172. The Cessna 172 Skyhawk is a four-seat, single engine, high wing, fixed wing aircraft. One of the most used GA aircraft in the world, it’s immensely popular. From 1957 till now more than 43,000 of these beauties were built. The C712 is therefore one the most used training aircraft.

Knowing all this , Airfoil labs took a relatively big weight on their shoulders. Even more by implementing all these extra features which you don’t find on any other aircraft add on. Let’s see if the can achieve what they aim to be, being the “A2A for X-Plane”. A hard difficult task indeed but something we X-planer users have been waiting for, for a long time.

Installation

The aircraft can be bought directly from the X-plane.org store, for € 34,95. The download is about 560 MB in size, comes zipped and should be extracted to your X-plane aircraft’s folder. After extracting the size is about 780 MB. When all that is done it’s time to boot up X-Plane 10. After choosing the airfoil labs C172 aircraft from the list and chosen an airport, you’re greeted with the activation screen. Your serial should be sent to you by e-mail after purchase and after activation you have to restart X-plane 10.

Naamloos

Back to X-Plane , when choosing the Airfoil Labs c172 SP from the aircraft menu. You’ll see you have 3 different versions to select. High res, medium res and low res. This used to be very useful in the older version of the aircraft as it was quite a FPS eater and choosing medium or low texture quality would help a bit. For now I will choose high res I’ll see how the performance is and lower it if necessarily. For the time being only a few repaints are available on X-Plane.org and you have to look carefully as not all repaints are compatible with all resolution sizes.

Documentation

A link to the manual can be found on the official airfoil labs website
http://media.wix.com/ugd/5822e8_6eaa5eadebfc49cbbaee2c4d8f14fbc6.pdf

The manual covers most common subjects, although Airfoil labs doesn’t include a simple aircraft start up guide. As beginners don’t always know how to start up a Cessna

Features

  • NEW!: INTERACTIVITY FEATURES AND FREE WALK AROUND
  • Free walk around the aircraft using the controller
  • Manipulation with chocks, ropes
  • Landing gear service doors
  • Oil check
  • Baggage loading
  • Manual towing of the aircraft
  • Control surfaces free movement check
  • GPU connect
  • Removing engine cowling
  • Manual refueling
  • Getting in and out of the aircraft
  • DreamEngine SOUND
  • More than 140 sounds
  • Real aircraft recordings
  • 3D sound distribution
  • Doppler Effect and Atmospheric Attenuation
  • Headphones high freq. attenuation
  • Different levels of landing hardness
  • Engine windmilling, brakes, bumps, AOA wind sound, etc.

FLIGHT MODEL MAIN FEATURES

  • Very accurate Flight Model. Tested and approved by real world Cessna 172 SP pilots and flight instructor
  • Realistic weight and balance – lateral and longitudinal loads placement
  • Custom made flight characteristics derived from the real aircraft flight recordings and based on real flight manual
  • performance data
  • Calculation of real KIAS based on KCAS according to flight manual
  • Realistic stall characteristics
  • Climb performance according to flight manual performance data
  • Cruise performance data precise match (PRESS ALT, TEMP, POWER, KTAS, GPH)
  • Electrical system derived from the real ELECTRICAL SCHEMATIC
  • Functional Circuit Breakers logic

HIGH QUALITY 3D MODEL, TEXTURES AND ANIMATIONS

  • High resolution 4K textures
  • Easy to read, high-resolution panel
  • All switches, buttons and knobs animated
  • Volumetric side view prop effect
  • Realistic 3D night lights effects.
  • Dynamic loading/unloading of 3D parts and plugin logic for FPS optimization
  • Windows fog and icing effects

SOPHISTICATED MENU SYSTEM

  • QUICK START panel for easy and quick configuration of the aircraft
  • CAMERA panel
  • FUEL AND PAYLOAD panel
  • SETTINGS panel
  • ENGINE SERVICE panel available in future update

FLIGHT INSTRUMENTS FEATURES

  • Pitot static system latency and customized turbulence effect (KIAS, VSI)
  • Sideslip KIAS reduction
  • Custom annunciator panel realistic behavior
  • Avionics panel advanced functionality
  • Autopilot is moving with the yoke
  • Autopilot disconnected by yoke movement

External walk

What other way to begin discuss the exterior than using the external walk around. You can use your joystick or yoke to move around the aircraft like you would do in real life. You can hear your footsteps when walking around as well.

You can click on all the many click spots, which are easy recognizable when the mouse pointer changes to a hand and this will activate the appropriate checklist. You can even tear apart the whole engine cover and check the oil quantity. Removing tie downs and chocks is easy by just clicking on them, even more realistic when clicking one of the tie downs of chocks will not remove them all at once , but only the one that you clicked. For checking the fuel quantity you need to click on the little step , this will bring you on the wing and the fuel tank cap will come off to check the quantity.
From opening doors to checking the control surfaces every animation is very smooth. When opening the small luggage compartment you’ll even see the key inserted in the lock and turning to open the small door and all with nice realist sound effects. You can tow the aircraft by clicking the front wheel and a tug will appear you can then easily park your aicraft inside a hangar.
It takes quite some time to perform the external walk, but hey this is a study sim and so far Airfoil labs succeeded in that. For a first project for a new unknown company I must say Airfoil labs did a marvelous job on the modeling and texturing of this aircraft. Everything looks how it should be.

X-Plane 2015-10-25 16-00-51-01 X-Plane 2015-10-25 15-59-33-28 X-Plane 2015-10-25 15-59-25-17 X-Plane 2015-10-25 15-57-05-86 X-Plane 2015-10-25 15-54-52-31

X-Plane 2015-10-25 15-54-12-13 X-Plane 2015-10-25 15-53-20-69 X-Plane 2015-10-25 15-49-02-39 X-Plane 2015-11-01 14-40-07-10

Interior

When the external walk finished it’s time to have a look inside. You can move from external walk into the cockpit very easy and realist by clicking on the door out side and click on the seat will get you in the cockpit
The cockpit looks very authentic and has nice high quality textures. Gauges are beautiful remodeled in 3D. The only downside ,the mouse wheel is not supported which is annoying and I hope they implement it in a later update.
The yokes can be hidden by a simple mouse click for your convenience. Doors and windows can be opened the same way. When looking overhead you find to sun visors, which strangely can’t seem to be moved. I guess this might be for a later update. You can also find two overhead lights which can be turned on. The cockpit features some excellent night lighting as well which can be dimmed to your preference.

X-Plane 2015-10-25 16-28-58-03 X-Plane 2015-10-25 16-29-54-65 X-Plane 2015-10-25 16-30-18-41 X-Plane 2015-11-01 14-43-07-58

So many menu’s

As you might have expected from an in depth study sim , this aircraft comes with many options and menu’s. When clicking on the red arrow on the left side of the screen a menu slides open. This menu gives access to Quick start, Camera, Weight and fuel, Settings ,Controllers, Engine and checklist.

X-Plane 2015-10-25 17-34-44-20
Quick start
From the quick start menu you’ll be able to auto start the aircraft if you’re unfamiliar with the start up procedures. It gives you also the choice to put the aircraft back to cold and dark state. This is useful as the aircraft remembers his last state in which you closed X-¨Plane. If you closed X-Plane with the engine running the engine will still be running next time you open it.
Secure aircraft is pretty self explanatory, useful when after you landed and you don’t want to do the whole walk around again, connecting each tie down and wheel chock.
Prepare for start is also pretty self explanatory as all you have to do is just start the engine, everything else is pretty much done for you, more for the quick hop in flights.
Connect GPU: this can also be done during the external walk but if you want to skip that, you can easily get it via the menu.
Flashlight: Well it seems Airfloil labs thought about everything, how are you going to do an external walk in the dark?

Camera

X-Plane 2015-10-25 17-41-10-56

Several different camera views can be chosen from this menu. This could be useful for users who didn’t have set their camera views in a preset , which is something I always do first with every new installed aircraft. Another neat feature is the ability to jump in & out the aircraft by a single mouse click. Also nice is the option to have G-effects and how much it effects and the ability to change the field of view. Last but certainly not least and something many users wanted is the possibility to turn of the dynamic view. When turning right the camera turns slightly to the right as well like your head would do in real life, but in v 1,30 the animation was a bit to slow. Good thing they listened to their customers.

Weight and fuel

X-Plane 2015-10-25 17-41-12-69

Wonderful how in depth Aifoil labs designed the payload and fuel configurator, each pilot & passenger weight can be adjusted, each fuel tank and the baggage compartment. A nice addition is when you load in luggage you actually see it appear in the luggage compartment. Very useful at the same time when loading you can also see the COG (Center of gravity) shift on the chart.

Settings

X-Plane 2015-10-25 17-41-14-36

Various settings can be changed to optimize the frame rate but also quite some sound settings can be adjusted.

Controllers

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Cant get enough of X-plane’s maze of joystick settings, well Airfoil labs kinda simplified it for you. Really nice of them how well they thought this through.

Engine

X-Plane 2015-10-25 17-28-06-48

This part will be available later on, and should feature maintenance and such. You’ll have to take good care of your engine as if you leave it in the hanger for a long time your oil will deteriorate within time Also failures will be included More about this later but we are very excited about this part for sure.

Checklist

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What would a study aircraft be without the additional checklists, they are all included and easy to reach when you need them.

So how does she fly

Well finally I can talk about how she behaves on the ground and in the air. I noticed that when starting the fuel pump the needle of the fuel flow gauge doesn’t response. I’m used to see that needle go up a bit but this isn’t the case . I checked a few Youtube videos and other users seem to experience the same thing. As you might know the C172 is quite a handful when flying she needs constant trimming and it’s quite a challenge finding that sweet spot.  While in flight she behaves pretty much like the real thing, I tested the flight dynamics and performed a  few stalls and she recovers nicely. I read that with version 1.30 she was kinda twitchy on the ground and the brakes were very strong , I noticed none of these issues on the newest version so i guess Airfoil Labs fixed these issues.

Sounds

As pretty much everything else on this aircraft the sounds are very good as well, outstanding quality and very lifelike. When performing the external walk you hear your own footsteps, although it sounds you got quite high heels, never the less this adds to the realistic feel of actually being outside with the aircraft. When opening the windows you defenitely hear a change in sound volume inside the cabin not only of the engine but also from the winds.  The engine sounds are almost scary, so lifelike Airfoil labs captured the sounds of this engine very good.

Performance

I know that version 1.30 was quite a FPS hogger, and i didn’t noticed any big FPS drop with version 1.40 . I think many users are glad with this, with my sliders pretty far to the right i was able to get  smooth gameplay all the time with FPS almost never dropping below 25 fps  in VC. Keep in mind that’s when using  the high resolution textures.

My specs:
Intel I7 6700K “SKYLAKE” overclocked to 5 Ghz
Asus Z170 Pro Gamer
16 GB DDR4 memory
2x GTX 980 in SLI
windows 10 pro x64

Conclusion

The best GA aircraft for X-Plane 10 ? Even though the aircraft is still missing a few features  it surely is my favorite GA aircraft with no doubt. This is something that’s been missing for X-Plane users for a long time.
Airfoil Labs started a big project with the C172 SP and so far they pulled it off , in my opinion . You cant find a more realistic GA aircaft for X-Plane simple as that . We hope to review any further updates on this aircraft as we are very excited for the upcoming features.

X-Plane 2015-10-23 22-52-36-89 X-Plane 2015-10-23 22-52-25-72 X-Plane 2015-10-23 22-51-26-96 X-Plane 2015-10-23 22-51-20-45 X-Plane 2015-10-23 22-50-10-36

X-Plane 2015-10-23 22-49-55-46 X-Plane 2015-10-23 22-47-59-94 X-Plane 2015-10-20 23-39-34-13 X-Plane 2015-10-20 23-38-43-83

Airfoil Labs C172 SP

Airfoil Labs C172 SP
8.5555555555556

Model

9/10

    Textures

    9/10

      Flight Model

      10/10

        Interior

        9/10

          Sound

          9/10

            Performance

            8/10

              Details

              9/10

                Manual

                7/10

                  Value for money

                  8/10

                    Pros

                    • Realistic
                    • indepth study sim
                    • lots of features
                    • fixes lots of issues from 1.30

                    Cons

                    • minor issues
                    • repaints

                    4 thoughts on “Airfoil Labs C172 SP

                    • March 26, 2016 at 11:31 am
                      Permalink

                      25 FPS with 2 GTX 980 in SLI and a 5-GHz i7?? That’s insanely low, are you always getting such a bad framerate?

                      Reply
                      • March 28, 2016 at 10:20 am
                        Permalink

                        NO this review was written before the aircraft got the latest update, and no i dont get it all the time , read my other x-plane reviews;

                        Reply
                    • April 1, 2016 at 8:03 pm
                      Permalink

                      I have to agree with this review, the plane is really nice and the flight model quite convincing (though I haven’t checked it against available charts). The possible pre-flight check, walk mode are nice for immersion, and the fact it has persistent parameters is very well-thought. The graphics are superb!

                      Also, a maintenance module is due soon.

                      It’s a pity no document or spec are provided. I have found what I think is the correct manual by looking on the Internet (there were quite a few variations of the Cessna) but a study sim deserves a proper manual, or at least a link to the model that corresponds to the plane as they modelled it. Same for the avionics. But I’d rather have that oversight which is easily worked out than a problem with the core model.

                      The lack of mousewheel support is more annoying, setting the radio frequencies is a real pain, even by disabling TrackIR. Talking about which, it’s perfectly possible to use TrackIR alone or better, use X-Camera and disable it to benefit from the camera features explained in the review above – but for that you really have to program a key to disable either TrackIR or X-Camera.

                      Another bother, and I hope I’m wrong, is the apparent lack of support in their forums, where the few posts from AFL seems to be announcements and many questions are not answered by their team.

                      Reply
                      • June 16, 2016 at 5:44 pm
                        Permalink

                        Revised opinion after further usage.

                        The next patch 1.60 that has been postponed for months has finally arrived, without any warning from the developers. Let us hope it addresses the issues like unfinished panels and power management. Be that as it may, it does not address the missing manuals, which is a shame.

                        I must admit I regret buying this mod, the overall quality is acceptable (though far from what we are used to with A2A and other products) but the repetitive delays in delivering patches, and the lack of any communication from the developers and support is simply unacceptable. Also, the x-plane.org website is bugged, you’ll have to try several times and hope you’ll be able to download any upgrade (their support is quite arrogant and not helpful at all, so don’t expect any improvement).

                        Overall, quite a bad experience, not recommended.

                        Reply

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