• Review: Airbus X Extended Edition

    Airbus X Extended

    Publisher: Aerosoft

    Review Author:
    Rohan Nair

    Suggested Price:
    $45.99

    Buy Here

    Sometime in 1987, the Airbus A320 flew for the first time. The A320 was the first of the family of short to medium range airliners manufactured by Airbus. A year later, in 1988, Air France became the launch customer for the European airliner. Although the Airbus A300 and A310 had been quite successful, most of the market was dominated by Boeing at that time. The introduction of the A320 family turned out be a crucial stepping stone for Airbus, one that would have it build more than 5,500 of the type and put itself into a head to head battle with the Boeing company for the market share in the short to medium range airliner industry.

       

    The A320 garnered much needed attention during the time of its introduction. It was the world's first airliner that featured an all digital fly-by-wire system. This feature is considered to be the hallmark of the A320 family. A full glass cockpit with modern EFIS and highly automated systems, the A320 was considered to be the epitome of a modern airliner. The fly-by-wire system replaced conventional mechanical methods to control the aircraft's flight surfaces with a computer interface between the pilot and the controls. This was a feature that contributed to reduction of the aircraft's overall weight. The pilots would make their inputs through conveniently placed side-sticks rather than using traditional floor mounted yokes. These inputs would be fed to various flight computers which would process the pilot's inputs and control the flight surfaces accordingly.

    In addition to fly-by-wire, Flight Envelope Protection (FEP) was added to prevent the aircraft from entering into an unfavorable situation such as a stall. The principles of engine power management also took a sharp turn away from conventional principles. Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) is a feature that implemented this new method of power management. The high level of automation in the flight deck meant that the pilot would be substantially relieved of several pressures. So much so, that it isn't entirely wrong to say that Airbus aircraft fly themselves.

    The A320 family consists of the A318, the A319, the A320 and the A321. The A318, being the smallest member of the family, has earned itself the title of the 'Baby Bus'. The A319 and A320 are the most popular variants of the series. The A321 is an elongated version of the A320. Recently, Airbus decided to fit their A320s with winglets known as 'sharklets' because, as claimed by Airbus, they hunt down fuel consumption.

    Another variant of the A320 called the A320NEO (new engine option) is currently being developed. As the name suggests, it will have more economical and efficient engines. Today, the A320 family gives tough competition to Boeing's 737NG series. Quite recently, Lion Air of Indonesia placed a record breaking order for 234 Airbus A320 aircraft. Operators all over the globe use A320s on short to medium haul routes.

    Since the days of the PSS A320 series, flight simulation enthusiasts haven't been able to get a taste of a detailed Airbus simulation. Although several Airbus simulations have made it to the market through with the course of time, all have always had shortcomings that rendered them unsatisfactory to both enthusiast and pedantic flight simulator fans. Aerosoft have stepped up to the challenge of developing a detailed Airbus simulation for FSX. The result of their efforts is the Airbus X Extended which we will now refer to as AXE.

    The AXE is built on the original Airbus X released by Aerosoft in 2010. The Airbus X may be thought of as a 'lite' version of the AXE. The AXE is available as a 802 MB download or a boxed product at the FS Pilot Shop. Aerosoft have chosen to model the A320 and A321 in their rendition of the A320 family. The absence of the A318 and the A319 is indeed a letdown but perhaps we can envisage the inclusion of these variants in a future update, Aerosoft?

    The product is designed to work with FSX SP2/Acceleration or Lockheed Martin's Prepar3D. A 3.0 GHz processor, 2 GB of RAM, a 512 MB graphics card, an OS later than and including Windows XP (32 and 64 bit versions), a mouse with a mouse-wheel and a joystick with rudder and throttle control functions are the minimum requirements for the AXE. The product has been fully tested under Windows 8. I did the review on a 3.2 GHz Core i5 with 8 GB of RAM and a 2 GB NVIDIA GeForce 710M running Windows 8 64-bit and FSX Acceleration.

       

    I did not run into any technical problems with the product. Performance was exceptional although it may be worth noting that the product is indeed taxing on frame rates. So if you have a low end system, you may not see frame rates more than the early teens. Installation was quite uneventful. During the process, you have the option to set up the Airbus for single throttle or dual throttle use.


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