Airbus Xtreme Prologue
The “Airbus A320”-series is, next to “Boeing’s 737-series” one of the bestselling airliner families. There are some add-ons for this Family already, so why is there another studio that makes this bird for the Simmers world? The reason is simple to me: because none of the existing products is as good as it could be!
I was asked to write an objective review for the version made by “BlackBox Simulation” and I will try it to be clear and fair. I have never flown an Airbus A320 by myself, so I can only give you my thoughts and feelings about the handling and the control over this one. And yes, normally I fly Boeing 737, 757, 767 and 777, but wanted to give this Airbus a try.
Airbus is the name of the company that develops airliners and helicopters since 1970. Its headquarters is in Blagnac, France. It is the manufacturer for the A300, A310, A320, A330, A340, A350 and the A380, the biggest airliner yet. The jets are built in different countries in separated parts and are built together in Blagnac, France or Finkenwerder, Germany, depending on the type of aircraft.
The A320-Series is used for short and mid-range flights all over the world by nearly most of the airlines. British Airways is performing the famous SpeedBird One flight BA0001 London, City, LCY – New York, JFK with an A318 with a stop in Shannon, SNN.
The Purchase, Download and Installation
You can buy the BlackBox Xtreme Prologue Add-On via the Store at www.blackboxsimulation.com or at simmarket.de. After purchase you will get the installer and your registration details. The downloaded file is 844mb and after the installation the Airbus needs nearly 3,2GB of space. There comes a manual and a quick start guide. First you should read the quick start guide, because there is the explanation how you adjust your throttles. In the manual you can read the correct way to fuel your aircraft, too. The manual is a tutorial flight where you will learn, how to use the add-on.
The Add-On is the full package. That means you will get the A318, A319, A320 and the A321 with one Add-On. The Airbus Extreme Prologue is available in Version 0.85.2 at the moment when I write this review. That means, it is not the final Version and also means it is still under development. Some parts of the Systems, like the weather radar, aren’t working yet but it is a promise that it comes to life with another update. You will get 60 liveries in all. Many other custom-paints are available on avsim-library or other well known places. As a small gift there is a variant of the A320-100 outer model available, one of the Air France liveries.
Blackbox is delivering the NaviGraph Airac 1506 with the installation. So if you have an account at NaviGraph, you can and you should update it to the newest Airac.
The inner and outer appearance
When I loaded the A318 for the first time, I was surprised by the outer textures. They are in High-Definition 4096×4096 resolution and they are looking really good. Despite its size they aren’t much greedy for VAS or heavy on the frames. They are really stable. In the cockpit there are movable sun visiors, hideaway folding tables, moving armrests and a movable hot seat in the back. The outer textures are really looking nice and more like metal, the individual rivets can be identified and the surface has a nice shiny touch.
As I said, I like the outer model textures. But most of the time you will sit in the right or left seat in the cockpit. There you have to look on this, in my eyes unfortunately plastic looking surfaces. To be honest, I don’t like the look of the cockpit-textures. They act to blunt and clean, the writings on the displays are a little bit blurry and from the normal views they are badly to read. They remind me of another cheap Airbus add-on I had times before. I am missing some structures of the different parts. Just have a look on the coffee mug on the left side or the safety rope.
Another thing I also don’t like is the appearance of the light-fields on the ground in the outer views. They are simple triangles and are looking boring. Maybe there will be some investigations in volumetric light-cones.
The systems are developed well in this aircraft. The CDU works like you should expect in an airliner. The engines and systems are running when you start your Simulator with the add-on. You have to cut the engines from fuel and the batteries, if you would like to save a cold and dark panel state. System wise the modeling is great already. You can start the engines in the real way by following checklists or the tutorial to get it powered up.
The aircraft doesn’t come with a load manager for payload and fuel, so you have to use the default one in your Sim. But it is promised that there will be a manager with the next update. The Auto-Pilot works well, the frequencies of the ILS, Navaids are updated automatically and entered accordingly in the FMC.
Example for the system-deepness: When you are in-flight and your fuel tanks are nearly empty, the plane will pump the fuel from the outer tanks into the inner tanks automatically. Something that I never have noticed in the AS Airbus.
The Navigation displays: In the Blackbox A320 Series you can adjust them independently from each other. Means: You can set the MAP on one of them and the ILS on the other one. Another example is the switches for the landing lights. In the Aerosoft A320 Series you can’t switch the lights separate from each other because one switch is for all three lights. Blackbox has one switch for every light
Most of the buttons and knobs are working by left or right mouse button or via the mouse-wheel. At some switches it is awful to use them, for example the landing light switches. Why not to use the left mouse button for ON and the right button for OFF? For now there are multiple click spots and they are hard to hit them.
Hint: The knobs are usable as they come, or you can use the altitude, the speed and the heading knobs together with the shift button on your keyboard. That allows you to scroll up or down faster in steps of tens. This function wasn’t mentioned in the tutorial yet but I like it very much and make dialing in the altitude etc so much easier.
The flight model feels different from the other, well known, add-on for this aircraft.
Taxing is a little bit tricky with the Blackbox A320 Series. When you have fueled it right, it is reacting like a heavy Plane. It is oversteering when you are too fast and needs a little bit of time to react. You have to practice a little bit, when you haven’t flown with an Airbus before.
In the air, the BBS is absolutely clear the better one. The steering and the acting of the airliner are completely different and feel much better. It is much easier to control the aircraft on final or right after departure. As I have mentioned in the beginning, I have never flown an Airbus in real, but the way BlackBox is simulating the feeling of the aircraft seems to be the better one.
I would say the Sound in the cockpit and the sound of the engines are good. Compared to my experience and some YouTube videos. If you push a button or if you dial the altitude with the knobs it sounds real.
Features: (as mentioned on the BBS-Page)
- Advanced 3dsMax modelling
- CFM & IAE V2500 Engines ++ New A318 Pratt and Whitney Engines
- Exterior model contains in excess of 150 thousand polygons
- Over 200 Custom animations
- Custom “smooth running” Engine Fan animations + 3d Fan Blades
- Ram Air Turbine
- Pressurization Vents
- Pop out Landing lights
- Full 3d cockpit visible through windows
- Highly detailed landing gear and gear bays
- Front and rear Pax doors, service + cargo doors
- 3d Windows with reflective + specular refractive glass
- Reverse thrust system
- 3d animated and sequenced Flaps/Slats/Speed brakes
Virtual Cockpit Features
- Virtual Cockpit contains in excess of 160 thousand polygons
- Every feature of the 2D Panel is reflected in the VC
- Animated Pull out tables, Sunblind’s, Jump seat & Armrests ++
- All knobs dials and switches faithfully reproduced in animated 3d
- Captain, First Officer and Jump seat positions available
- Rear overhead section with Breakers and reading Lights
- Separate flood and integral lighting + test switches for warnings
- Fully textured & Bump mapped parts include seat fabric and carpets
- 3d modelled Standby Gauges
- Reflective glass in all gauges and windows (reflects cockpit environment)
- Highly detailed Side sticks with “skinned” boot
- Highly detailed Thrust levers with “Automatic” detents via keyboard or stick
- Custom Fly By Wire System
- Custom Autopilot and Auto Thrust systems
- Switchable Multifunction CRT display screens, PFD, ND, ECAM1 & ECAM2
- Programmable MCDU and FCU with Managed CLB and DECENT + Constraints
- Uses NaviGraph Navdata with Sids & Stars
- Flight plans can use constraints, step climb, holds and Alternate destinations
- Autopilot with Managed, VSI, FPA, Heading, Track and Nav modes
- Autothrust with easy to use Preset detents for Managed and Spd modes
- Full Cat I, II AND III Auto land features
- FBW Envelope protection, anti stall, pitch, roll and g-load limiting
- One click Popups on all MFD’s
- IFR and VFR Panels for CAPT & FO in both normal and widescreen
- Fully featured pedestal
- Overhead panel
- Separate Integral and flood lighting
- Accurate font used on MFD’s FCU, MCDU and ECAMS
- Sub pixel GDI rendering for ultra smooth operation and excellent frame rates
- Fully featured Engine FADEC with individual assignable throttle axis’
Performance and compatibility
After some trouble with the adjustments of the throttles and the flow of the systems, I never have problems with the aircraft in performance wise. It is running absolutely fluid and without stutters. Even the VAS is not a problem. Framerates are between 25 and 30fps at locked 30 Frames with Active Sky Next, REX 4 Texture Direct + REX Soft Clouds, FTX stuff and add-on sceneries.
NaviGraph is supported, so you can update the AIRAC with the most current one. There is no official template/ profile for Professional Flight Planner X, but the existing Profile is working well. FSDreamteam’s airport service add-on GSX is working well.
The Add-on supports all known FS X and Prepar3D Versions
For nearly nine years I fly Boeing Series most of the time and because of that, there are some starting difficulties with the Airbus. I also have the Aerosoft Airbus Extended, but I don’t really like it. After doing the BBS A320 tutorial flight (Malta, LMLL <-> Campo Dell’orro, Corsica, LFKJ) again and again it is going better and better.
The question is:
Is the BlackBox Airbus the better one? My decision is: YES! To be honest, I like the interior textures of the Aerosoft A320 more, but that’s all. In the other points it is, as I mentioned above, much smoother to control and easier to fly and a lot smoother on the performance. The system-deepness is already much better.
For the Price of 39,99€ you will get the whole family and that’s absolutely fair. System-wise there are great differences compared to the Aerosoft A320. There are a lot of small things better. I hope that there will be some improvements for the cockpit textures and the light cones.
If only for the better performance, I would make a recommendation to purchase, and suggest doing the tutorial flight at first and again and again to learn and understand the system. With the tutorial flight you can get a first inside view of the Airbus and its systems. I will do that and maybe I will learn to love the BBS Airbus like the PMDG 737. I hope you like my thoughts. It’s my first review of an aircraft.