Hi tech, economical and quiet
I think those 3 words pretty much sum up what the new Airbus A350 stands for. With the Mighty Airbus A380 launched few years ago, Airbus had a wide gab between the considered “ancient” A330 and the A380. More and more airliners are beginning to phase out the beautiful Airbus A340 because its 4 old engines aren’t economical enough for today’s standard and the A330 cant fill the gab of passenger capacity. Boeing’s answer to the A380 was the majestic 747-8 and they filled the gab between the new 747-8 and 777 series with the recently released Boeing 787 series. So Airbus designers went to the drawing boards and developed and aircraft to compete Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner series.
So the brand new highly advanced airbus A350-900 XWB rolled out of his hangar at Friday the 14th of June 2013. The fuselage of the A350 is actually wider than first intended and as it’s competitor from Boeing, the 787 Dreamliner. There for the letters XWB which stand for Extra Wide Body.
Qatar was the very first airliner to receive this new aircraft at December 22th of 2014. Qatar flies the A350 daily to Frankfurt main.
The -900 version is the first of the 5 variants of the Airbus A350, other variants will be available within a few years.
-800: variant with a shorter fuselage 60,54 m or 198,6 ft
-900: currently released and in use by , Qatar, Finair, Vietnam Airlines length: 66,89 m or 219,5 ft
-900R:Ultra long range variant to compete to Boeing’s 777LR (Long Range) length: 66,89m or 219,5 ft
-900F: Cargo version length: 66,89 m or 219,5 ft
-1000: variant with a longer fuselage to compete with boeing’s 777-300(ER) version length: 73,88 m or 242,4 ft
A developer with a very high reputation when it comes to aircraft development for X-Plane. Flight factor developed the Boeing 757 & the 777 in the past both were very well received by reviewers and users. This is their very first Airbus that they develop and being full aware of their outstanding reputation plus being the first developer to develop the brand new Airbus A350 for flightsim made me very eager to get this. I’m very curious how flight factor pulled it off to create a virtual replica of a brand new aircraft, after all almost none official documentation is available for the performance data of this beauty.
The aircraft is available for purchase at the X-plane.org store, for € 49,95. The download is about 854 MB in size, comes zipped and should be extracted to your X-plane aircraft’s folder. After extracting the size is about 991 MB. When all that is done it’s time to boot up X-Plane 10. After choosing the Flight Factor A350 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.
Back to X-Plane , when choosing the Flight Factor A350 from the aircraft menu. The Aircraft comes with 7 liveries to choose from ; Airbus Carbon, Air France, Airbus House colors, Qatar, Lufthansa, United Airlines. There are many more to download from the xplane forum there is a livery available for every airliner that ordered the A350 + some fictional onces, so surely no lack of repaints. I got my repaints from here
The default liveries
This is something very nice implemented by Flight factor you can look at your X-plane folders everywhere, but you will only find 1 PDF named briefing which is located at the aicraft folder. But wait there is much more Flight factor has it built in at the Capt Outer OIS (Onboard Information System) or the outer left screen for your newbies . I will discuss the Capt Outer OIS furter at the Systems part of this review. So how’s the manual ? Well very good and not so good to be honest, let me explain before you start calling me a silly goose or anything.
The user guide is huge counts about 218 pages and is extremely detailed every part of the flighdeck is explained. , but somehow Flight factor did not added a simple startup tutorial ?!. Even for experienced Airbus users the aircraft is quite a bit different to start than any other airbus so this could be quite confusing for new users. Ofcourse there is still the good old youtube video guides but including a tutorialflight to make your familair with all the systems would be much appreciated. I do like how smooth the mousepointer transets from the VC into the OIS screen.
- Superb 3D Modeling
- Complete Virtual cockpit in high-resolution
- Fully animated in and out -High-Resolution Textures
- Ground equipment support including stairs, loaders, passenger buses, GPUs etc.
- 3D people inside and outside the plane -Nicely modeled cabin
- Scroll wheel support for switch manipulation
- Fully customized aircraft systems: electric, hydraulic, air conditioning, ADIRU
- Fully customized ECAM monitoring system with all screens and functions included
- Fully functional airbus style alert system with multiple status and procedural lists
- Fully functional interactive airbus electronic checklist system
- Airbus A350/A380 unique interfaces with dozens of screens and hundreds of function
- Fully customized and unique MFD (multifunctional display) system with most of flight planning pages implemented in
- a new graphical interface, as well as FCU and radio backups just like on the real plane
- Full OIS screen system with options, ground equipment control, passenger and cargo loading, and even a full user’s manual inside the plane.
- Old style MCDU and fully functional aux instruments as backup
- Custom failures
Advanced Fly-by-Wire and Flight systems
- Full FBW with Highly realistic implementation of the Airbus normal laws by QPAC -the most realistic fly-by-wire implementation for desktop flight simulation.
- Basic SID/STAR implementation using X-plane fms-files that you can create yourself and share with the community.
“What you see is what you fly” flight path indication on the ND (i.e. curved trajectories with the turn radius properly computed based on speed and angular turn distance.)
- Implementation of all Airbus AP modes, except some non-precision approach modes (Selected and managed modes, speed constraints respected, “at or below” constraints in phase climb, “at or above” constraints in phase descent.)
- Full PFD and ND displays with fully independent display and different data sources for the captain and copilot displays.
- Independent autopilots
- Custom 3D Sounds
- Custom 3D stereo engine sound system
- Hundreds of system and in-cockpit sounds
- Interactive flight attendant helper
Seven Liveries included in the package
Airbus Carbon, Air France, Airbus House colors, Qatar, Lufthansa, United Airlines
Having a look outside
Lets start with a look from the outside, as you could have expected Flight Factor did and outstanding job once more at this beautiful bird. The dark cockpit windows and the new blended winglet design,makes this type of aircraft very easy to recognize. Some people dislike the dark cockpit windows which reminds them of a raccoon of a zorro mask but that just depends on personal taste. As I’m sure there is some very hi tech explanation for it. The textures look top notch and modeling is of high quality. Most of the downloadable repaints you have the option to choose for a clean look or the version with some additional weathering and dirt effects. Personnaly i like some dirt on my aicraft as it looks more realistic, However this being a brand new plane there wont be much dirt on it except maybe on the gear. Overal without ever seeing an A350 in real life only on video and pictures , I think Flight Factor did an outstanding job on the modeling.
The brand new Flightdeck
Welcome to the flightdeck of one of the most advanced aircraft ever build. The 6 huge LCD screens immediately draw all the attention once you step inside this advanced flight deck. The flight deck looks well modeled, however the textures of the flight deck look a bit to dark , when comparing the virtual flightdeck to a picture of the real aircraft. I would say 90% of the flightdeck is fully functional, the night lighting can be adjusted to your own likes and taste. Only small thing I noticed is that Flight factor only modeled the HUD on the captain side and not on both sides like on the real aircraft. Overall I can say flight factor did a great job on the Virtual Flightdeck as well but wait , there’s more they also remodeled the cabin and even the crew resting place, just in case you need a virtual nap in your virtual aircraft on your virtual flight 🙂 You can clearly see the difference in the 3-class cabin and it even has the additional bar. Outstanding work of details I must say!
When you look at the Flightdeck displays you immediately notice the absense of regular MCDU’s that we all know. The MCDU on the Captain & FO side have been replaced by the MFD ((Multi function display) this is something that they migrated over from the A380. The Backup MCDU is still available in the old style and can still be used even in conbinaton with new MFD . Unfortunately the aircraft still lacks Sids and Star which is kinda of big downside for a aircraft from this quality, although these will be added later with an update. Where the left part of the MFD can be used as MCDU the right on is reserved for the Electronic checklist. A very useful system that we all know from the Boeing 777 series.
Onboard Information system
Another thing migrated over from the A380 isthe Onboard Information System those are the LCD screens at the outside at the Captain & FO side. Flight Factor makes great use of these screens as you us set up you aircaft completey with this.
Doors & hatches
Under the Tab Groundservice you find 3 screens; Doors & hatches, Ground equipment and Pushback. When activating the doors screen you can open every door & hatched by just hovering over it with the mouse cross and clicking on it.
When selecting the ground service screen, you can connect the ground power and such but you can also activate stairs, fuel truck, luggage loader and much more ground handeling services all built in the aircraft.
The Aicraft can be pushed by using the yoke or joysick, where you move the pushback truck, make sure to disconnect any ground equipment and close any doors first ofcourse.
the airplane page is used to load your aircraft, you can even set the average passenger weight. and change the cabin lighting and monitor the water and waste level. the aircaft even features a build in Performance calculater whichis very usefull. Just fill in the slope and flap setting and the aircraft will calculate the V speeds for you.
A nice feature is the Cabin annoucement page, however you hardly hear them in the flighdeck , you need to set your cameraview in the cabin and even then the cabin annoucement were very quiet.
Another nice feature is the Charts page, at default only the chart of EDDF and EBBR are equiped. Downside is these charts aren’t just PDF files in which you just can drop in some folder. NO the files are imagefiles in PNG format.
To create a charts folder place a pdf (preferable jeppesen) in this folder and click on pdf2png.jar or pdf2pngHD.jar. Note, you must have java runtime installed for this to work. The application will automatically create a folder with the
name of the pdf and create charts which can be read by the plane later on. Makesure the name of the pdf has no more than 5 latters. simply using the code of the airport is the easiest way.
various options can be enabled in the options screen, some are very usefull. Good thing they added to option to only show the pilots in external mode, cause i really dislike seeing them in VC mode.
Overall the systems are very stable and never once i had troubles in my flight with the autopilot or any other system. I love how the mousewheel is working on all the dials through the flight deck and not only on the MCP panel like with the Jardesign A330. Pity about the limitations of the MCDU I would love to see this all when everything is 100% working in the next updates. Another only small thing is the aircraft is only flyable from the captain seat not from the FO seat , but aren’t we all captains after all ?
Not easy to compare the flightdynamics when you haven’t been onboard (as a passenger) the A350 yet , but in my opinion she handles just as good as she looks. You’ll enjoy flying her by hand, she is a big bird but doesn’t feel that way when maneuvering her at low speeds, which I think is pretty much how the real bird feels. The fly by wire system does it work flawlessly.
the sounds are quiet good, ofcourse this not only mentiong the engine sound from the outside but also from the cabin. Engines make a nice deep roary sound but ofcourse not to loud as an A330 as this bird is very quiet, for passengers as for spotters in real life. When starting the APU you hear that clearly from the flight deck and it feels very natural. The buttons and switches at the flightdeck each have their own sound which is good. The only minor issue is the external sounds from the ground equipment is a bit too present at the cabin and flightdeck it’s almost if you’re right next to it.
Performance wise I was very pleasantly surprised, at the VC at a payware add on I still managed to top 35 FPS easily. When flying at cruise altitude and panning around, my FPS are a steady 60-70 FPS . I must admit I use Skymaxx pro V3 and clouds have no impact at all on my not so humble system .
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
The Flight Factor Airbus A350 is a good product and once the MCDU limitations are “fixed’ it will be a freakingly awesome product. There for I think the full retail price of 49.95 USD is a bit much for an aircraft that is not fully equiped yet. Never the less the modeling, textures, sounds and flight dynamics are all very nice .
None the less i think it’s remarkable that even without a single officical performance document released yet Flight Factor managed to pull it of and developed a perfectly believable A350 for X-plane. I’m looking forward for the next updates of this aicraft. I wonder in what year the FSX/P3D users will be able to fly an Airbus A350.