• Review: FSLabs A320

    A320-X

    Publisher: FSLabs

    Review Author:
    Stuart R. Outram

    Suggested Price:
    $99.95

    Buy Here

    The Review

    Should you only be interested in 'the meat' of the review, then go straight down to the Purchase Process header, and read on from there. If you enjoy a bit of background? Then start right here. It is also most important to say, that in speaking to a very wide audience, there will inevitably be areas covered where the experienced user will say 'I know this already, why go over it all again?' The simple answer is that for those much less experienced then some more subtle and nuanced suggestions might just prove to be very useful. Therefore, please skim, scan or immerse, dependent upon your own criteria and experience.

    FSLabs A320

    For those who think this to be an advertorial review - I have no connection to FS Labs, (apart as an observer over the years, and now as a customer). I have received no inducement to write this Review, and the thoughts herein are my own personal views.

    The Concept

    The FS Labs A320 is the present culmination of many years of synergy within the Flight Simulation community. Before looking more in depth at the release of this crafted bird, a bit of back tracking down memory lane is in order.

    Since the beginning of Flight Simulation time, professional and amateur developers have either dabbled or completely immersed themselves in the process of providing convincing 'add-ons' to create a realistic ambience for we, the end user.'

    We are as eclectic as the developer. A broad church of interested parties, coming in all types of different mental shapes and sizes. I have the good fortune to be a founder of a complex virtual airline, where we take new members and put them through their paces. From the start-out process of being able to do simple puddle jump flights - right up to inter-continental 'red eye' journeys.

    They come and fly with the experience that they have already gained, or grow through the use of our training area - which is very much self-service, but carries much of the information required to begin and continue successful flying, from start through to flying aircraft such as the FS Labs Airbus A320.

    What becomes evident is that not all want to delve into the murky underworld of complex systems, and the long and drawn out process of devouring FCOM's, procedures, and aircraft management.

    'Point, click Ctrl+E' and off we go! Can be quite sufficient for some, whilst others find themselves sleep-walking into the more demanding parts of the hobby. Often finding that the satisfaction that they derive from being able to work out how the professionals do it, can outweigh the steep climb that is necessary to get to this level of competence. We indeed do have professional and hobbyist pilot members.

    We have heard it often enough. "Can't be bothered with spending an hour on the ground twitching and twerking knobs, dials, switches levers and buttons! Just want to get in, crank it up, and away!"

    From the early days this was no real issue, as those for whom creation was more enjoyable than the actual flight part, have provided us with simple models (some quite sublime in their visual attributes), that were easy to manage, quite low in system needs, and intuitively grasped within a very short time scale. This has given rise over the years, to others, which have slowly, gradually and with almost imperceptible shifts in scale, taken us to a point where they are vastly more sophisticated than the platforms that we have all previously used within which to fly them.

    Each and every time I look at doing an aircraft review, my thoughts turn back to the PSS 757 (now Black Box), the Level D 767 and the like. Those that still manage to stir the memory of the early beginnings of a more demanding aircraft - and they and their Flight Management Systems are still a good place to begin the process of 'step climbing' up to more rigorously designed aircraft.

    In terms of 'crafting' then the art of the FS Labs studio can be compared with a roughly outlined sketch, set against a richly colored landscape painting - which has taken years of intelligent and diligent effort for the artist to create, and for us to enjoy.

    In fact, the FS Labs A320 has indeed taken 'several years to create' and its leading force, Lefteris Kalamaras left us dangling in mid-air (no helicopter pun intended), in anticipation of its release. We have been fed morsels of information over the years with promises of 'when it arrives it will be a force celebre!'

    So. Is it?

    Like many, over the years, I have taken an interest in the progression of the FS Labs A320, gaining and losing interest in equal measure. Dipping in and out of the FS Labs Forum, and then forgetting it altogether as the agony overcame the ecstasy, wondering if it was ever going to be released. It seemed that the need of the development team, was to drive this product onward, with a central philosophy of 'it will only be released when it is ready to be released.' Dogmatically, they promised to deliver a model that emulated the real thing in such a way that real world A320 pilots would not be able to discern the FS model from the real thing. In that as 'they,' the real world pilot slowly alighted upon the virtual world A320 captain's seat, they would feel totally at home. As all of the actions that they took in the actual aircraft would need to be taken, in exactly the same way, in order to get this bird to fly.

    So is this the case?

    The Reviewer

    I will look at this from the perspective of a long time FS enthusiast (me - non real world pilot), who progressed from the Ctrl+E era of the Bruce Artwick subLOGIC period, circa 1976-79, and has pretty well kept up with the ever increasing complexities of the hobby ever since - at the time of purchase, being the owner of the PMDG Fleet of aircraft, and the Aerosoft A320-X. All flown on the FSX platform. No longer able to tolerate anything less than these models, they are used exclusively, due to the nature of their complexity.

    I routinely start cold and dark at the gate, and utilise correct procedures for flight. Including flight planning and the use of all available elements of the hobby - including a well-known weather program, an internal ATC add-on, using all of the terminology used in the real world, and I also have considerable long-term experience of flying under the VATSIM banner. In other words, I approach the hobby from the point of view of trying to do all things in the same way as in the real world, without having any real world experience.

    Preparation

    Always ensure that your version of FSX (P3D), is up to date and has all of the additions necessary to allow this type of high level program to run effectively. FSUPIC installed, SimConnect, all of the Microsoft.net Framework elements installed, and anything else that makes your program work in a 'rock-solid' way. It is always a good idea to do a full defrag, and to have a separate back-up of your FSX, (P3D), program before beginning new installations. If you are running a low end machine, then I am suspicious that this aircraft will not be a good fit, if it works at all.

    2D And/Or VC (Virtual Cockpit)

    The product comes with both 2D and VC - you can install both or just the VC. I have not used a 2D cockpit for so long that I now see it as almost superfluous. Many of you will not, and I do understand. I used 2D for so long that the transition to VC was quite arduous. It is the usual problem of what you know, and what you don't know seeming odd. After a while it becomes so normal to be able to have a 3D 360-degree angle of view, that 2D really seems so clunky and unrealistic. Therefore, no 2D comments from me.

    Before Installation Knowledge

    Beware! This is not for the faint of heart - as with all add-ons with a deep level of development, it follows that there will inevitably be areas of concern that might affect you after download. You might be lucky...you might not. If you do some research BEFORE purchase, by checking out the FS Labs A320 Forums, then you could well save yourself much heartache and stress, by uncovering what others are suffering after the purchase and download process.

    Housekeeping

    When did you last defrag and back-up FSX or P3D? This may be a good time to get your hangar in order, before downloading this aircraft.


    17 Comments
    1. solo1984's Avatar
      solo1984 -
      I own it: absolutely incredible! Each system is simulated like the real bus! The sound is also incredible! Even PMDG is far behind!
    1. DrawyahGames's Avatar
      DrawyahGames -
      Quote Originally Posted by solo1984 View Post
      I own it: absolutely incredible! Each system is simulated like the real bus! The sound is also incredible! Even PMDG is far behind!
      The PMDG 737NGX is a few years old now, we'll have to see how the 747 v2 (or is it v3?) will look once that's out of advanced that gets. Likewise, the A320 is a slightly more advanced aircraft when it comes to flight systems and computers, Boeing likes to go for a more traditional flying style. ������

      Likewise, thanks to major piracy of their products, there is a chance they are somewhat weary of releasing new packages and despite being expensive, they do borrow an entire aircraft which gets very expensive - It will take them a long while to break even, if they can also stay over!
    1. TightGit's Avatar
      TightGit -
      Shame there is no 2D comment, since so many of us don't like VC as discussed here recently.

      Can anyone fill the gap, please?
    1. W33's Avatar
      W33 -
      Quote Originally Posted by TightGit View Post
      Shame there is no 2D comment, since so many of us don't like VC as discussed here recently.

      Can anyone fill the gap, please?
      Hopefully you still enjoyed the rest of the review though.

      W33
    1. baw279's Avatar
      baw279 -
      Quote Originally Posted by TightGit View Post
      Shame there is no 2D comment, since so many of us don't like VC as discussed here recently.

      Can anyone fill the gap, please?
      Sure.
      FSLabs are one of the few development teams who feel the need for 2d panels for some of its users (once again, a commitment to fill all needs)

      The 2D panels are selected on installation and can make a large improvement to performance of this aircraft in the sim. The panels are clear and readable and fully functional. Although, not a 2d panel user, i have tried them and have to say, they do not take anything away from the user in terms of immersion of this addon.
    1. solo1984's Avatar
      solo1984 -
      Quote Originally Posted by DrawyahGames View Post
      The PMDG 737NGX is a few years old now, we'll have to see how the 747 v2 (or is it v3?) will look once that's out of advanced that gets. Likewise, the A320 is a slightly more advanced aircraft when it comes to flight systems and computers, Boeing likes to go for a more traditional flying style. ������
      The making of this addon took 7 years! It's different from PMDG and all other (good) developpers because each system is working behind! When you open the engine bleed, the valve is opening, taking some time, and then the air is going thru the duct, the packs switch to ON, and the you get the sound of the air into the cockpit and cabin....etc Everything is simulated and realistic! So before pushing a switch, you have to think about consequences! I LOVE this bird!!!!

      To get an idea about how this bus works, I suggest to see some Blackbox711 youtube videos! The guy is an A320 pilot in the real life!



    1. TightGit's Avatar
      TightGit -
      baw279,

      Many thanks, looks like I'll have to start saving.

      Or dropping hints to Mrs TG for Christmas!
    1. flightman's Avatar
      flightman -
      Excellent review of an excellent ground breaking product.

      A couple of things. The start selector switch does not return to off automatically in the real A320. It stays where it is put and the pilot must remember to switch it off after starting engines. FSLabs have thus modelled correctly.

      Secondly: as well as PFPX, Simbrief is also supported fir downloading flight plans to the FMGC. The only restriction is you must use the LIDO format. FSLabs are reworking this system as it isn't most user friendly system.
    1. StuartOutram's Avatar
      StuartOutram -
      The start selector switch does not return to off automatically in the real A320. It stays where it is put and the pilot must remember to switch it off after starting engines. FSLabs have thus modelled correctly.
      Thanks for that clarification - I did wonder.

      I will be straight off to Simbrief then - I have used it a few times, but mainly use Aivlasoft's EFB with Routefinder for the flight planning side of things.
    1. Karl's Avatar
      Karl -
      Quote Originally Posted by DrawyahGames View Post
      Likewise, thanks to major piracy of their products, there is a chance they are somewhat weary of releasing new packages and despite being expensive, they do borrow an entire aircraft which gets very expensive - It will take them a long while to break even, if they can also stay over!
      I'd say its more due to their's and others' arrogance when supply and demand tells them that the price should be lower. Even in niche hobbies, business be business.
    1. DrawyahGames's Avatar
      DrawyahGames -
      Quote Originally Posted by Karl View Post
      I'd say its more due to their's and others' arrogance when supply and demand tells them that the price should be lower. Even in niche hobbies, business be business.
      Yet they should spend their money on essentially leasing out an aircraft, scanning every detail of it and recreating it just for you to take it without thinking twice about the effort and finance going into it.

      If you can't afford it, you shouldn't get it. You want them to lower the price? Don't buy it and show there is no demand.

      People who pirate thousands of pounds worth of addons should be taken down, but it's too widespread. I don't know you do it personally, but if you do please just keep it to yourself.

      ----------------------------------------------------------
      Check out my YouTube Channel for more Simulator and Gaming content!

      https://www.youtube.com/c/drawyahgam...confirmation=1
    1. flightman's Avatar
      flightman -
      Quote Originally Posted by StuartOutram View Post
      Thanks for that clarification - I did wonder.

      I will be straight off to Simbrief then - I have used it a few times, but mainly use Aivlasoft's EFB with Routefinder for the flight planning side of things.
      Simbrief is brilliant and it keeps getting better.
    1. Karl's Avatar
      Karl -
      Quote Originally Posted by DrawyahGames View Post
      Yet they should spend their money on essentially leasing out an aircraft, scanning every detail of it and recreating it just for you to take it without thinking twice about the effort and finance going into it.

      ----------------------------------------------------------
      Check out my YouTube Channel for more Simulator and Gaming content!

      https://www.youtube.com/c/drawyahgam...confirmation=1

      Today we're talking about FS vendors. In the broader scheme of things we're talking about media vendors in general.

      You know which media industry doesn't have real issues with piracy? Apps for mobile devices. Why? Because their priced at a point where people can realistically get them.

      I've talked with a few of the vendors over the years. They have no research to support their pricing scheme. Anger, such as yours, is commonly the response to any suggestion of adjusting to a realistic supply and demand curve.

      You say don't buy and they'll get the idea. Historically, they do not. They simply try to identify the cause of low sales as piracy. You don't need a degree in economics to see the solution. You wish to respond to my suggestion with righteous bluntness. That's fine. Here's my take.

      This is soooo easy that ~anyone~ who doesn't see it is *stupid* IMHO. So go right ahead. Argue the point with me. You'll know before you hit the reply button what my thoughts are. I won't even need to respond. Because after all, the only way to bigger fool than a fool, is to argue with one, is it not?
    1. StarBlue's Avatar
      StarBlue -
      Thanks for a great review.

      I have sat on the fence waiting for this add-on, as opposed to the one offered by Aerosoft. On that now I am confused as to which one I should buy. I do like my aircraft a lot of 'Procedural' sim such as a PMDG. Saying that, does anyone have experience with both that can tell me which one is better. I am thinking FSL but want to make sure. Also I'm waiting for the P3D version.
    1. Karl's Avatar
      Karl -
      Quote Originally Posted by StarBlue View Post
      . I do like my aircraft a lot of 'Procedural' sim such as a PMDG. Saying that, does anyone have experience with both that can tell me which one is better. I am thinking FSL but want to make sure. Also I'm waiting for the P3D version.
      I don't fly airliners generally. My recent interest is solely based on my flight group's weekly airliners flight over the summer. I've been surprised that it has actually has kept my interest.

      I have a acquaintance nearby who is a tube driver He has the PMDG stuff. Myself, I bought the Aerosoft one for the reason state above. It was hard to justify spending $40 on something I'd fly a few times a month, but I couldn't see spending $80-$100 for the PMDG for sure. So, after spending a total of an hour in each, I can say that the PMDG is definitely worth the better value if you fly airliners. I didn't think the 777 was a ~put together~ as the 737. I saw ZERO issues with the 737. Even the flippin' dimmers worked.The Aerosoft cockpit textures are weak in comparison. There is no wing flex that I was able to see. The Airbus systems are quite a bit different compared to the all too familiar Boeing. I really can't comment on the quality of the Aerosoft systems.

      I wouldn't swear to it, but I think Frooglesim on YouTube did a review of the FSLabs A320. You might want to check it out.

      I would absolutely hold FSLabs to the standard of PMDG if they're going to ask $100.
    1. Karl's Avatar
      Karl -
      Quote Originally Posted by Karl View Post
      I wouldn't swear to it, but I think Frooglesim on YouTube did a review of the FSLabs A320. You might want to check it out.
      Found it, https://youtu.be/Vs_yro2-dSk?t=3m36s
    1. bobo68's Avatar
      bobo68 -
      Yes they are asking to reverse back to version 3.3 of the client.

      They announced already a patch for p3d to be released tomorrow.

      I am very disappointed tough I didn't get OOM issues.

      There are several issues in the last version of Fsx and in their light engine " Spotlights" still unsolved.

      It appears there are 5 or 6 people in the team that's why it took 6 yrs to develope.

      Plus their anty piracy engine don't allow to patch so every time they patch you must install 3 blocks with two shut downs.

      If you fail a reboot or you don't load the trike everything crashes.

      Plus you have the joy to see their Engine service process running in background even if your wife is looking at recipes on Youtube.

      I asked for a refund against a donation to unicef of equal import and they banned me from the support forum.

      They would have perfectly known if I have destroyed the application because it needs to be connect to the internet even for uninstalling.



      Safe skies to all
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