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Calum Martin

Aerosoft Airbus A318/A319

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Flight Simulation went an age without a decent Airbus series of aircraft. Sure, some developers created visually appealing models, but nothing with systems and flows that made any sense. Never mind the complexity that comes with the vast ECAM screens and the FBW system. Of course, as Simmers we want realism, but that comes with a cost: a long development time and a performance hit – two things that every developer and simmer out there dreads. Luckily for us, Aerosoft saw a great opportunity and ceased it.

 

 

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Their visually appealing Airbus A320 X released several years ago began a trend for the publishing giant. They realised they could create a visually appealing aircraft, with minimal systems, yet immerse Simmers just enough to satisfy their lust. Sadly (or thankfully, depending what side of the fence you’re on) demand for a deeper system became priority for everyone. As a result, in 2013 Aerosoft released, what was known at the time, The Airbus X Extended (or AXE for short). Suddenly, fixes to the FBW, MCDU (Editors note: Nearly called this the FMC… too much Boeing on the mind) and visual improvements made this THE airbus to fly. It was well designed, light on the user’s machines, but included enough depth to the systems to allow the Simmer to follow a typical, standard flight – and at a bargain price.

 

Unfortunately for Aerosoft, despite their persistence and hard work, after a few more months, we all got restless yet again! We all knew it was their plan to release the A319 shortly after the A320, but what we didn’t expect was for them to add even more to the overall package of the Airbus. Here we are in 2014 (and three paragraphs into the review already, without even touching up on the review), and Aerosoft’s most ambitious project has been released for sale.

 

 

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As you step into the Flight Deck for the first time, you will notice an all familiar location. Everything looks pretty much the same from the A320 Flight Deck, however, Aerosoft have completely redone the Virtual Cockpit to improve draw calls to help improve the frame rates significantly. Not only that, but the resolution is higher and the displays are much clearer than ever before. Despite being clearer than previous aircraft, once you zoom in just a bit, text becomes a bit blocky. After having experience inside of a A319/320 flight deck for a long time now, I feel the refresh rate inside Aerosoft’s ‘Bus to be a bit slow. It may save on performance, but having the option would allow users to adjust based on their machine. With dimmable displays and more functionality, this already feels much more realistic. Something that was missing from the previous Airbus products from Aerosoft were fire tests and a realistic APU start up time. After being requested constantly, Aerosoft have listened and delivered. Something that is still missing if the inclusion of an LBS function for our American friends. There’s a huge Airbus in operation over in the states, yet they have to convert all of their weights in KGS. No issue for most, but something I would have expected to be achieved by now.

 

Modelling on the outside of the aircraft has also been vastly improved too. There is no longer any debates over the size of the engines, the angle of the flaps or any other complain initially had with the Airbus series. This is their most impressive work yet, and even all of the texture work has been upgraded to a more high resolution giving simmers even more opportunity to take shameless amounts of screenshots of their new baby ‘bus. Another added feature is the addition of external nav, beacon and strobe lighting reflecting off of the ground. Again, this was the direct input of the community and Aerosoft have listened.

 

If anything has impressed me with the A319/318 collection, is the upgrades Aerosoft have put into the software. I remember when they first announced that Airbus Xtended X, when they announced it to be a medium-range aircraft. Similar to that of QualityWings – a great looking model but only limited functionality. Enough to allow the simple Simmer to enjoy the day-to-day procedures of the Airbus. Whilst this is most certainly the case, the added functionality is very much welcomed as even basic MCDU functionality such as range arcs has now been included (missing before). It’s all these included extras that make the upgrade price such good value for money.

 

 

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Speaking of the MCDU, a lot of new functions have now been made available. Things such as HOLD and OFFSET are now included and provide an excellent tool when planning for bad weather. Also, now when you change the route in the ‘preview’ mode, the nav display will now highlight your new adjusted route in yellow – just like the real thing. Small, but invaluable improvements such as these make the A319/318 feel like a more complete package than ever before. Just as before, only the left MCDU is functional, but the right side allows for users to configure their Airbus – but more on that shortly.

 

One of my new favourite features is the fact you can now load fuel, and payload directly in the Airbus via the right MCDU. If I hated anything from the previous airbus collections, it was the external fuel loaders. I hate them. They are a pain to work with and complete spoil any and all immersion. Thankfully, Aerosoft realised this and have given you the option to either instantly add fuel or payload, or in real-time, complete with appropriate ECAM memos. I finally can plan my flights before, operate a 4 sector day and never leave the Flight Deck. Failing that, external fuel loader-lovers can also plan and load fuel just as before.

 

 

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As I mentioned above, you can now use the MCDU to plan for any approaching weather. Of course, this would be pointless in the world of Simulation without some way of knowing where the weather was on your course! For those living under a rock, PMDG lead the way earlier this year by releasing a service pack for their 777 series which allowed users of Active Sky Next to use a fully working Weather Radar within the Nav display of their aircraft. Well I am happy to say that Aerosoft’s Weather Radar (which can be used with ANY Weather Engine, or even default FSX weather) works incredibly well, with very little impact on performance. From a time where developers were adamant that a WX Radar was impossible to having two products in one year with finally claiming accurate information, Simmers have truly been spoilt.

 

Having a Weather Radar is a fantastic piece of equipment. Within the sim, you will be able to adjust the gain and tilt of the radar to pick up returns up to a very large area in front of the aircraft. As a result, you can detect clouds with precipitation within them, which includes storms and other activity. It can really make a difference to how you fly, adding both an extra challenge and thrill to a typical flight. What really impresses me about Aerosoft’s Weather Radar is the fact that any weather engine is compatible. Finally non-users of Active Sky Next can experience a true to life weather radar, complete with ground returns. It’s easy to use, immersive and impressive – everything I would want from a WX Radar.

 

 

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In addition to the WX Radar, a new feature has been added to the Nav display, which takes Aerosoft series far beyond their initial medium-spec’d outset. With a click of a button, you will now be able to see a completely accurate terrain database appear, to allow you to avoid conflict with nearby terrain. The level of detail in both the weather radar and the new terrain database is easily on PMDG level in terms of complexity and quality – and this is a $30 add-on!

 

Everything else with the product feels incredibly fine-tuned. The IAE engines are now accurate and have the correct displays. The FBW settings of the aircraft have been fine-tuned, and even the taxi model has been adjusted to consider the poor friction of the FSX/P3D world. Finally, single-engine idle taxis are now possible (with a light load of course). Even the aircraft’s sound-set has been updated. Everything from start-up sounds to the impact of landing has been adjusted for a more realistic and immersive quality.

 

 

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Further to just improving their aircraft and systems, Aerosoft have spent a considerable amount of time on improving their co-pilot functions. Apart from fixing some issues from before, new commands and flows have been added. Again, Aerosoft realise how important it is to be immersed into your product. Although I’m not a fan myself, I can assure it works splendidly. It’s certainly a great feature to be built into the aircraft and one I hope other developers push in the future.

 

Aerosoft are consistently fine-tuning fuel and flight dynamics. During the course of this review, they have released several updates / hotfixes which fix general issues. The on-going development work from the team is something Aerosoft have defined their business on and continues to be the best in the industry.

 

 

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As you can see, I am more than impressed with Aerosoft’s brand new A319/318 update. It adds so much more than just a model and slightly different flight dynamics from their A320/321 series. The improved performance, the added functionality and impressive Weather/Terrain displays easily justify the expense of upgrading. Whether you use the A319 for short/medium haul, or take the 318 for a spin across the Atlantic, you’re going to have an incredible experience. I have poured countless hours already into the Sim and you will do too. If their continued support and range of updates is anything like we’ve seen from Aerosoft before, the A319/318 will be an ever-growing project.

 

 

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5/5  |  Publisher: Aerosoft  |  Developer: Aerosoft  |  Price: 39.95EUR | 16.16EUR

 

PURCHASE AEROSOFT'S AIRBUS A318/319 HERE!

 

The sheer number of improvements, optimisations and additions to Aerosoft’s Airbus family is staggering. Everything from improved texturing to improved systems warrants not only the upgrade price, but even a full priced product. The weather radar is excellent and the new sound effects immerse me completely in the product. With more features to come, it will remain in my hanger for a long time to come. 

 

+   Impressive new range of features and at a bargain upgrade/full price.

+   Performance friendly, even with new features inc. Weather / Terrain radar.

 

 -    Still no inclusion of LBS for our American friends.

 -    Refresh rates and texture quality of displays should be higher.

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