By Fangzhong Guo
Laminar Research Releases X-Plane 12
Laminar Research announced the official release of X-Plane 12 today. The simulator has been in early-release testing since September. If you have not heard of them, they are one of Microsoft Flight Simulator’s main competitors. The company specializes in simulating realistic flight dynamics. They even offer an FAA-certified version that allows pilots to accrue training hours.
The latest iteration of the flight simulator features 18 unique aircraft models as well as over 17,000 accurate 3D airports, with new ground textures, towers, and pavement effects to improve reality.
Another aspect is that X-plane is also available on Mac for those who do not own a PC or Xbox.
Like the Microsoft Flight Simulator, the new X-plane has a small list of default aircraft out of the box. The only new addition on the airliner side is Airbus A330, while the version inherited McDonnell Douglas MD-82 and Boeing 737-800 from the previous version. However, X-plane has a large community of developers for add-on aircraft. The developers also ensured backward compatibility with plug-ins for X-Plane 11.
Notably, the developer also included an eVTOL airplane designed by Beta Technologies. The piloted Alia-250 is still in development. However, it has already attracted the airlines’ attention. For instance, UPS holds an order of 10 Alias with the option to purchase another 150. According to AOPA, ‘A spokesperson from Beta Technologies said that Beta uses X-Plane along with its in-house simulation software to power the company’s simulators and is excited to share some of the simulations its engineers and test pilots use to build and fly their aircraft with the X-Plane community.’ This new addition is certainly interesting to help people understand the dynamics of an eVTOL airplane.
Below is the complete list of new aircraft in X-Plane 12,
- Airbus A330
- Cessna Citation X
- Lancair Evolution
- Cirrus SR22
- Piper PA-18 Super Cub
- Van’s RV-10
- F-14 Tomcat
- Robinson R22 (plus a floats version)
- Beta Technologies Alia-250 eVTOL
One of the most significant selling points of Microsoft Flight Simulator is the fantastic scenery upgrades. While there is still a noticeable difference in the world scenery between the two simulators, the new X-Plane also included many engine updates to provide a more authentic flight simulation experience.
One of the features highlighted in the announcement keynote was the continuous weather engine. In addition to using real-world METAR weather information, the latest simulator also pulls forecast models from NOAA to construct more comprehensive and continuous weather systems.
Version 12 also added additional support for its sound engine. In addition to making designing sounds for plug-ins easier, it also improved features such as ground vehicle sounds at airports.
New Engine Features in X-Plane 12
- Volumetric 3D Clouds
- Physics-Based Photometric Lighting Model
- Worldwide 3D Water
- Rewritten AI Air Traffic Control System
- Global 3D Forests
- Seasonal Textures and Weather Effects
- Revamped Real Weather Data
X-Plane has long been dubbed as the most realistic flight simulator regarding flight dynamics. I’ve enjoyed the simulator, especially how it visualizes forces and environments in the simulation. I can’t wait to spend some time flying in the latest version.