Fenix A320 – Dev Update 08OCT21

Hello everyone!

A two week break seems like an eternity when you’re used to weekly updates! That being said, however, we’ve made some really nice progress in the last couple of weeks – and I can’t wait to show you what we’ve been up to. Unfortunately, we’re unable to slot in a feature review due to time and resource constraints – so a dev update will have to suffice I’m afraid!

First up, as I teased on our Discord yesterday, our EFB is now in the airplane and beginning to take shape nicely. We’re still heavily in the midst of development (read: It’s WIP) for this, and as such, the look and feel of the UI may change between now and launch – but we’re really happy with the way it’s progressing. I will refrain from making any promises about whether or not this will be something we include for launch – as we’d initially intended to make this available as a post-launch update, but the rapid progress may move it forward.

Smudges and all.. And no, that sticky note will not exist on your versions at home, we’ve just plastered some fun little nods towards our alpha testers in various parts of the airplane. There are a few more scattered across the flight deck! These will be removed before launch – they exist to indicate a dev build 🙂

As with most things Fenix, we’ve had a little fun with the EFB, implementing a few nifty little features over and above the core functionality, just to help bring you one step closer to having a generic non-specific tablet in the flight deck. For example, the screen on the EFB is modelled to have 2x Device Pixel Ratio, so a 2048x1536px resolution displayed over a 1024×768 viewing portal – emulating the display technology found on most current generation tablets (and the sort of thing you find in the flight deck) for maximum clarity and sharpness.

We’ve also accurately modelled the charge and discharge characteristics of a lithium ion battery – so remember to keep your tablet plugged in and charging, or you’ll be without it! Not for nothing, but I’ve also always disliked being forced to a specific background, so just for that final personal touch – you can change the background of your Fenix EFB to whatever you choose.

Speaking of which, as you would expect, the EFB features full Navigraph charts integration – and we’ll be working toward enabling their moving maps functionality to further flesh out the feature set. Simbrief also makes an appearance, with the ability to pull your briefing directly onto your EFB and reference it quickly, especially handy for those of you in VR.

Takeoff and landing performance calculators are currently undergoing development – so you will not be left without them (a popular question!), and for those that prefer the ATSU method of receiving your performance data – we are sketching out a way to make that available to you too.

Finally, for those that are no doubt wondering – yes, you’ll be able to use this on your real tablet, or any other PCs hooked up to your Local Area Network, so you can have a Fenix EFB on your desk in front of you, if you so wish!

Moving on to the airplane as a whole, progress is good and we’re eagerly anticipating SU6 and it’s requisite aerodynamic changes – this should give us a foundation to start polishing out the final few intricacies with the flight model on the Fenix A320, but as always, we can’t say for certain until the update actually lands and we get to poke around it ourselves. Currently, in-flight phases already feel really good and we’re approaching a point where the handling is starting to come together. It’s trending in the right direction!

The A320’s various autoflight programs are also handling the aircraft very nicely – with the numerous autoflight features coming together to create a very reliable and robust system that does exactly what you ask of it. Courtesy of our friends at ORBX, Volanta allows us to show you some of the flight paths the aircraft has flown in recent days, and compare them against the published charts!

Here we’ll look at the RNAV X RW12 for Ponta Delgada – using Navigraph charts we can see that this is quite a sporty RNP AR approach with little room for error.

And here, the path the Fenix A320 flew by itself, both laterally, and vertically, whilst respecting all speed and altitude restrictions, all the way down to minima on short final (where yours truly took over). Oddly satisfying! As mentioned before, one of the goals of this entire project is producing something reliable, so you can nail approaches like this, day in and day out – at any airport you choose. This would not be possible without our incredible Alpha team putting the aircraft through it’s paces every single day, allowing us to tune the software to achieve results like what you see below.

Another fun little track in Volanta showing off the ENHANCED LOC CAPTURE FUNCTION present on more modern airframes (very early aircraft did not have this – ask a pilot who flew one of those things about their propensity to chuck you in a 33 degree bank hunting for the LOC on a tight intercept..). Airbus designed this function to allow the A320 to reliably, consistently, and smoothly capture the LOC without an overshoot.

Credits: https://www.pprune.org/tech-log/609882-a320-loc-intercept-fmgc.html#post10170224

You can see it in action here, as we handle a slight-more-than 90 degree intercept with relative ease – the image also shows the difference between a “heading select” left turn (on the left side of the image), and the comparatively smooth ENHANCED LOC CAPTURE (over on the right side of the image).

For now, that’s all I’ll give you on this, we’ll put out a full autoflight feature review which will follow on eventually.

To wrap up, the visual team is doing some absolutely incredible work on refining the PBR maps and weathering. If you look closely, you’ll see the weathering and streaking over the fuselage deforming due to the airflow sweeping over the wings, a really cool effect that often goes unnoticed. You definitely need the right sort of the light before it becomes apparent however, but when you do manage to catch it – it’s a jawdropping testament to the level of detail the artists on this project have strived for.

I’ll leave you all with some images of a few new liveries completed by one of our phenomenally talented artists. See if you can spot the unique decals on these works of art!

Have a great weekend everyone, we’ll see you next on 22OCT2021.

Aamir

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