Feature Review & Dev Update – 08DEC2021

Hello everyone!

It’s been a while since we’ve delivered a substantial update or feature review – so here we have a little bit of both.

To start with, our ELEC feature review. Of note – if you are already familiar with the ELEC system on the A320 – I’d recommend skipping ahead to roughly around 8.5 minutes in, since I spend the start of the video covering the basics!

I hope this is not too dry for most of you, but I do understand that this is quite a dense amount of information to convey. Feedback, as always, is appreciated in our Discord, and in the comments section of the video!

In other areas, we’ve finally managed to overcome a few internal hurdles with our infrastructure deployment, and that’s freed up a little more time to refocus on the airplane and begin making a push to the next phase of testing. Development is ongoing, and testers are being sent new builds nearly every 3 or 4 days at this point. We’ve knocked out roughly 200 bugs in the last 5 months – and we hope to grab a few more before we move the airplane forward. Some of these have been relatively small fixes, and others have been much larger, sweeping, code changes and fundamental rewrites in certain areas. I can only thank our incredible Alpha team for providing the quality feedback that made this possible. Sound development continues to move forward too, and is slowly starting to pick up pace – I’ve started to get little snippets and I couldn’t be more excited about what’s brewing.

Our flight model is also progressing along quite nicely now, with some subtle development work ongoing to try and capture as much of the A320’s character as we possibly can. We’ve made some rather sweeping changes to the flight model (read: rewritten) from the last time you all saw it in action, in our Sydney autoland video. A small snippet is included below to show the aircraft lining itself up on an RNAV approach with a 30kt crosswind – a great demonstration of how nicely and reliably the automatics are handling the aircraft, but also a great way to observe the improvements to the core of the flight model when compared to the Sydney video. The aircraft looks much more settled here, in decidedly heavier winds. A significant amount of work has gone into making the airplane feel like it interacts with it’s environment with the weight and mass befitting a 65-tonne passenger airliner. If you’re wondering why the actual landing isn’t being shown – I’ve yet to come up with an excuse to cover my atrocious flying, so we’ll have to wait for one of the professionals to shoot something before I send it out to the world!

Additionally, we’ve started to try and build in some of the interesting character traits the A320 displays during flight -one of them being a fairly distinct pitch change when selecting flap 2. This was caught on video by an Alpha tester on approach, as seen below. In this scenario, the pilot has selected flap 1, however when you are airborne, the aircraft only deploys its slats (i.e. leading edge lift devices only). Then, when selecting flap 2, the aircraft goes from no flap deployed, directly to 2 stages of trailing edge flaps – and in doing so, changes its pitch quite dramatically. This dramatic pitch change brings about a momentary bout of positive vertical speed when the energy state is within a certain window. We have replicated this, right down to the quick jab of positive V/S as the aircraft is configured for landing!

EFB development has moved along quite rapidly too!

We’ve added in the ability to draw annotations and notes to your Navigraph charts, and a landing distance calculator that can also account for the failures that lead to a LDG DIST PROCEDURE APPLY ECAM message, whilst visually representing your landing distance including a 15% “safety” margin that pilots are required to account for when calculating their landing distances.

Due to the nature of how we have designed and implemented the EFB and the operating system behind it, app and software updates will happen automatically, so you won’t have to wait for an update to the aircraft to be released to experience updates to your tablet/apps. Apps are intricately linked together, so you can even download your OFP from SimBrief to your Pilot Briefing app and then export it directly into your Charts app to save time having to manually input them or import twice.

We have introduced a clipboard function, so you can “star” the charts that are likely to be of use to you on your flight, and then display only those charts for ease of access when you need them in a hurry along with a moving map displaying your planned routing.

Here’s a quick video with our EFB in action and new annotations and dark charts in sim!

Of course, we mentioned you’d be able to use this app across a network – on your iPad for example – and as such, we absolutely had to ensure annotations worked on iPads and other networked devices, which you’ll be pleased to hear it does!

Overall, the EFB is coming along stunningly, and we couldn’t be happier with the result!

Finally, as we start diving into some fairly intensive (and critical!) parts of development, we’re going to go a little quieter on our updates, and we’ll simply release an update when ready, instead of giving you all an expected date, and then missing it as development picks up and priorities shift. We’re very happy with the direction of MSFS and its respective development tools – Sim Update 7 has improved our ability to quickly iterate new testing builds, and overall our development rate has accelerated significantly as new updates release for the title.

For now, that is all! I hope this update gave you some insight into the aircraft and project – and in case we do not speak before Christmas and the New Year, have an awesome holiday season, all!

Aamir

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