• A350 Family X From AFS Design

    A350 Family X From AFS Design

    By Bill Stack (17 February 2011)


    Screen shots by AFS Design



    The Airbus A350 is a "family" of three wide-body airliners under development. According to the Airbus website: The 800 model carries 270 passengers and has a range of 8,300 nautical miles. The 900 model carries 314 passengers and has a range of 8,100 nautical miles. The 1000 model carries 350 passengers and has a range of 8,000 nautical miles. All three cruise at 0.85 mach. They will be flown by two pilots, and they are fitted with a heads-up display. Designed to compete with Boeing's 777 and 787, the major distinguishing characteristic is higher fuel efficiency and therefore higher profit. Airbus says it has received hundreds of orders from airlines around the world for these aircraft that are scheduled to enter service between 2013 and 2015.

    Formed in the late 1960s, Airbus designs, builds, and sells about half the airliners used around the world. It employs about 57,000 people at sites in France, Germany, Spain, Great Britain, and China. Its A320 was the world's first fly-by-wire jetliner, and its A380 is the world's largest jetliner.


    BASIC AIRCRAFT SPECIFICATIONS
    From AFS Design
    Empty weight 268,675 LBS (121,869 KG)
    Maximum take-off weight 467,360 LBS (211,991 KG)
    Cruise speed 0.84 mach
    Maximum operating speed 350 KIAS (0.84 mach)
    Range 8,000 to 8,300 NM
    (14,816 to 15,372 KM)
    Ceiling 33,100 FT (9,455 M)



    AFS Design lists these product features of its A350 Family (among others) in its product listing:

    • Fifteen liveries of international airlines
    • Fully functional cockpits
    • Flight-management computers (FMC)
    • Blank aircraft for repainting

    AVAILABLE MODELS & PAINT SCHEMES
    With Four Examples



    Aircraft Selection Menu

    Air France British Airways Thai Airlines Korean Air
    Screen shots by Bill Stack

    Visual Features

    Exteriors and interiors appear accurate compared with pictures available on the Internet. Because this airliner has not been released for flight, those pictures are drawings and photos of mockups, not actual aircraft photos. In response to my question, the developer said dimensions and other visual features are based on the Airbus A330, which he says is similar to the A350.

    All models of this aircraft reflect considerable time, effort, and attention to visual detail and accuracy. Textures, shadows, and reflections are realistic. Liveries are consistent with those I found on the Internet. The 3D virtual cockpit is easier to read when zoomed in. The two-dimensional instrument panel is not as clear as the three-dimensional panel, and there's no zooming in or out.

    The Flight Deck

    The flight deck and panels of these airliners reflect as much attention to detail and accuracy as the exteriors and liveries. Panels contain typical and unique glass instruments and displays. As one example, flaps are shown in numerical sequence (1, 2, 3, and 4) and in percentages (25, 50, 75, and 100) instead of degrees of deflection.

    Instruments in the 3D panel are most readable when zoomed in, as shown in my screen shots. The global position system (GPS) popup window is very useful because the GPS in the 3D panel is not very readable unless zoomed in. But then we can't eyescan around the panel to read the instruments as a real-world pilot would do. The constraints of a computer monitor are a factor, of course.

    The GPS in the console cycles between terrain and plain view with mouse clicks.

    The horizontal situation indicator (HSI) cycles between Arc and VOR modes by clicking on the "NAV DISPLAY" button below the backup attitude indicator. The digital true-airspeed readout in the HSI eliminates the need for calculating true airspeed from indicated airspeed, altitude, and temperature. Clicking on the ILS/ROSE/VOR/NAV knob above the backup attitude indicator changes only the course deviation indicator (CDI) on the HSI. In response to my question, the developer said he would re-examine this instrument.

    The product description says there are two "switchable EICAS Displays," but I found no way to switch from one EICAS (engine instrument and crew alerting system) to another. The developer says there are four EICAS displays, but I couldn't find more than one.

    The 15-page FMC shows the flight plan filed with the FSX flight planner, the following of waypoints, and the calculation of courses among other data. There is no guidance on using it, however. After exploring and experimenting, I found that many pages are easy to figure out because they are similar to other FMCs, but I was unable to use all its pages.

    The product description says "seatbelt and no smoking sign with acoustic sound," but I did not hear any sounds when I turned these switches on and off. The developer said he would correct this problem.

    The right seat is occupied by a female co-pilot. The left seat is unoccupied, presumably because it is "occupied" by the flight simmer.


    COCKPIT AND PANELS OF AFS's A350


    Left Seat

    Center

    Right Seat

    2D Panel

    Overhead Panel

    Console

    Heads Up Display

    Flight Instruments

    Aircraft Instruments

    Co Pilot

    Clickable GPS

    Clickable GPS

    Flight Modeling

    Since this airliner is still under development, performance modeling is based on the Airbus A330, according to Andreas Meyer, who says the A330 and A350 are similar.

    For realistic test flights, I used Blaqnac Airport (LFBO) in Toulouse, France, where Airbuses are assembled and tested. Its elevation is 497 feet (151 meters), and it has two parallel runways 3,000 meters (9,842 feet) and 3,500 meters (11,482 feet) long. As usual, I used clear weather, standard atmosphere, and the aircraft's default weights. My tests were largely experimental based on my basic knowledge of jetliner flight because flight guidance with this package is scant.

    • Default Weights: The default weights in the Fuel/Payload menu are as follows: Empty weight 268,675 LBS (121,869 KG). Payload 23,200 LBS (121,869 KG). Fuel 171,001 LBS (77,565 KG). Gross weight 462,876 LBS (209,957 KG). Maximum gross weight 467,380 LBS (212,000 KG). Its maximum gross weight is more than twice the FSX A321 and about half the FSX 747.

      The fuel menu shows 95 percent capacity in the center tank and 99 percent capacity in each left and right tank. The payload menu shows 20,700 LBS (9,389 KG) of people, one of whom is the co-pilot at 170 LBS (77 KG), and 2,500 LBS (1,134 KG) of cargo. Dividing 20,700 LBS of people by an average of 170 LBS shows 122 persons on board.

      With the aircraft-selection page specifying passenger capacity between 295 and 337, and with this A350 carrying nearly a full load of fuel and nearly full weight of passengers, it appears unable to carry a full number of passengers plus full loads of fuel and cargo combined. If the airline sold every seat on a given flight, this aircraft could not fly its maximum range. If the airline needed to fly maximum range, a full load of passengers could not be carried. As a consequence, pilots must consider capacity versus fuel for every flight.

    • Taking Off: For take-off decision speed (V1), the reference sheet calls for "flaps 3, 143 KIAS." For rotation (V2), the reference sheet calls for "flaps 3, 151 KIAS." For minimum climb speed from a dry runway, the reference sheet calls for "flaps 3, 155 KIAS." (As a matter of practicality, "minimum climb speed dry runway" is actually lift-off speed because runway conditions don't matter any more once the aircraft is climbing.) These speeds and configurations presume the aircraft's default take-off weights in the Fuel/Payload menu. Nothing is said about runway elevation, atmospheric conditions, or engine readings.

      From Blaqnac's elevation, at standard atmosphere, with weight near capacity, and with N1 at 95 percent (which was below the red line) the AFS Design's A350 rotated around 150 KIAS and lifted off around 155 KIAS.

    • Climbing: For initial climb, the checklist calls for 10 degrees pitch and airspeed of V2 plus 15 KIAS, which is 166 KIAS. To achieve this condition, I had to reduce throttle to less than 50 percent N1. This pitch, airspeed, and requisite power level seem very low. In response to my question, the developer said he would correct the checklist regarding climb guidance.

    The guidance is silent about configurations and airspeeds for climbing to cruise altitude. To climb at airspeeds and vertical speeds more consistent with today's jet airliners, I increased pitch to 15 degrees and power to 90 percent N1, resulting in an airspeed of just under 250 KIAS while below 10,000 feet. Above 10,000 feet (3,050 meters), I was able to increase airspeed to 330 KIAS by lowering pitch to 10 degrees and increasing power to 95 percent N1 (still below the red line). At 20,000 feet (6,010 meters), I had achieved 322 KIAS and 416 knots true airspeed.

    When I climbed with autopilot set to 330 KIAS and 2,500 FPM, I achieved 321 KIAS and 421 KTAS at 20,000 feet, then 318 KIAS and 484 KTAS at 30,000 feet. The aircraft reached 0.84 mach (specified cruising speed) and 496 KTAS around 32,000 feet.

    • Straight and Level: Without autopilot, this aircraft holds altitude with delicate adjustments to pitch and power. It's about the same at low and high altitudes, whether it's holding at low altitude while waiting for a landing clearance or cruising enroute at high altitude. Holding altitude seems easier than would be expected of a wide-bodied jetliner.

    • Ceiling: The aircraft-selection page specifies service ceiling as 33,100 FT (9,455 M) and cruising speed as mach 0.84. This airliner easily climbed past 33,100 FT at mach 0.84 and eventually to 47,000 FT (14,335 meters) before losing airspeed. It reached 50,000 FT (15,250 M), but after losing considerable airspeed.

    • Descending: Whether under autopilot or flown manually, and whether descending from high or low altitude, this aircraft descends as smoothly as any other simulation jetliner. It also decelerated to approach speeds easily when at lower altitudes.

    • Turning: This aircraft turns as would be expected of a wide-bodied jetliner at high, moderate, and low speeds, much like the FSX default Boeing 747.

    • Approaching: This aircraft approaches like any heavy wide-bodied jetliner as long as its required approach speed and flaps configuration are maintained. It will lose altitude quickly if speed falls below the specified level.

    • Landing: Landing approach speed is specified as "flaps 3, 151 KIAS." Nothing is said in the guidance about variables such as aircraft weight or airport elevation. Nor is anything said about touchdown speed. This aircraft approached handily at 151 KIAS with flaps at position 3, and it touched down at about the same speed. Stopping was quick and easy with the reverse thrusters engaged.

    • Taxiing: I found taxiing in this aircraft much like taxiing in the FSX Boeing 747.

    • Overall: Having never flown any airliner of the A350's size and weight, and with scant flight guidance, I have no way of knowing how this aircraft should fly. Its overall performance seems consistent with such airliners. It cruises effortlessly at much higher altitudes than specified, even under nearly full weight loads.

    AFS DESIGN'S A350 IN FLIGHT

    Emirates

    Lufthansa

    Malaysia

    Virgin Atlantic

    Singapore Airlines

    Aeroflot

    Ground Lack

    Industrie House

    Repaint
    Screen shots by Bill Stack

    Checklists and Reference Data

    The checklist provides guidance from startup to parking. Specific data on power settings, climb pitches, and climb speeds are scant, and some don't make much sense. For example, the guidance to climb at 10-percent pitch and airspeed of V2 plus 15 KIAS resulted in climbing at air and vertical speeds that seem very low for this type of airliner. The developer said this would be corrected.

    The reference sheet provides elementary V-speed, maximum-speed, and flaps data. Where it says maximum operating speed is 350 KIAS, true airspeed must be considered because the airliner would be traveling at supersonic speeds at high altitudes while at 350 KIAS. Where it says: "For detailed instructions on how to fly this aircraft see the Aircraft Information articles in the Learning Center," that statement must be left over from another checklist on which this checklist is based because the FSX Learning Center contains no information about an Airbus A350.

    There are no operational manuals explaining how to fly this aircraft or use its panels and instruments. Due to the lack of manuals and the scant flight guidance in the checklists and reference sheet, flight simmers must learn how to fly this aircraft and use its panels and instruments by exploration and experimentation.

    CHECKLISTS, REFERENCE SHEET, & POPUPS


    Checklist Window

    Reference Sheet Window

    GPS, Radios, FMC

    Screen shots by Bill Stack

    Extra Goodies

    Cabin and cargo doors open and close with mouse clicks in the virtual panel, as shown in the screen shots below.


    EXTRA GOODIES


    Cabin Doors Open

    Cargo Doors Open

    Clickable Door Controls

    Screen shots by Bill Stack

    Technical Features

    This aircraft is for FSX and FS2004. I reviewed the FSX version.

    Purchase and installation from the Pilot Shop are very easy. Downloading takes a few minutes, and installing is quick. A license key and legal agreement are not required.

    The installation program installs all the aircraft-related files into the SimObjects\Airplanes folder.

    Sounds are recorded from the "original Rolls Royce Trent 900 engines," according to the product description.

    Without an uninstall program, these aircraft must be deleted manually (if desired) with Windows Explorer.

    The product description implies that all three A350 models (800, 900, and 1000) are included by referring to it as the "A350 Family," but only one model seems to be there. None is identified specifically as an 800, 900, or 1000. The three real-world models are different lengths on the Airbus website (61M, 67M, and 74M respectively), but all 16 of AFS Design's models appear the same length, and no length is specified for any of them. In response to my question, the developer said the package is the Airbus A350XWB, "because the A350 is in development."

    Technical support is available through an email available on the Flight Sim Pilot Shop. The developer's response to my emails was quick.

    Any buyers or prospective buyers with technical questions not answered in this review should contact the developer via the method given on the Pilot Shop page where this product is described.


    PURCHASE FEATURES

    Instant download from the Pilot Shop

    Yes

    Installation program

    Yes

    License key required

    No

    Copyright acknowledgment required

    No

    Manual included

    No

    Checklists & reference included

    Yes

    Uninstall program included

    No




    More Information

    Information about the real Airbus A350 can be found at these websites, among others:

    AFS Design is an independent add-on developer operated by Andreas Meyer. Other products include:

    The A350 Family was developed as an offshoot of AFS Design's Airbus A380 Family. "The Airbus A350 is strictly speaking an addition to Airbus A380 family," Andreas Meyer says.

    Summary

    AFS Designs' Airbus A350 Family is a good package of one of the world's more advanced airliner. Anyone who likes simulating flight in heavy jetliners and/or the world's more modern aircraft will probably enjoy this product. All the various liveries and their flight decks are realistic compared with photos I found on the Internet. Flight modeling is consistent with airliners of their size and weight. The reference sheet and checklists are helpful toward flying these aircraft properly. Manuals explaining how to use the unique panels and instruments would have been beneficial. I would like to see an update to correct the issues I asked the developer about.

    Bill Stack
    billstack@flightsim.com

    Learn More About AFS Design's Airbus A350 Family for FSX

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    Bill Stack is author of several books about flight simulation, a regular author in flight-sim magazines, and a contributor to Flight Sim Com. His website is www.topskills.com