• Review: X-CPL-Pilot


    Publisher:Tino Nuglisch

    Review Author:
    Andrew Parish

    Suggested Price:

    Buy Here

    How often have you sat down in your sim pit, fired up X-Plane with your favourite aircraft at your preferred aerodrome, and then thought, "well, what am I going to do now?" This question has plagued me for more years than I care to remember!

    The simulation community has of course sought and delivered several answers to this question!

    Virtual airlines were the first to emerge, and my first sojourn into that space was with a fledgling Noble Air back in the days of dial-up modems in 1995. They (both virtual airlines AND internet communications) have come a long way in the twenty-five years or so since then! The multitude of airlines that have spawned offer varying degrees of structure to their flying and there's every chance that you'd be able to find one which offers the sort of flying that matches what you're looking for. Often though, there is a requirement to commit to a minimum number of flights in a defined period - something that is not always compatible with other commitments.

    The emergence in around 1998 of SATCO, the organisation that in 2001 spawned the VATSIM and IVAO networks that are more familiar to us today, delivered a new dimension to simulated flying - the option to fly with 'real' air traffic controllers and in the same airspace as other visible pilots. Through necessity and a desire to closely emulate real-world operations, they publish and enforce standards that might be more rigid that some pilots are comfortable with. The modern reliance on voice comms rather than the original text messaging also has the potential to take pilots out of their comfort zone.

    FSEconomy, launched in 2005, provides a virtual multi-player world where aircraft persist, and jobs are spawned at aerodromes across the whole world which are available to any pilot to complete. The most basic interaction with the environment requires only that you have a variant of one of the aircraft contained within it. Without buying an aircraft in game though - which comes with its own complexities and usage requirements - you are somewhat at the mercy of the game world and other pilots regarding availability of your preferred bird. I find it particularly annoying to return to where I left off after some sleep to find that someone else has taken the aircraft I was using!

    Figure 1 - X-CPL-Pilot Logo

    So - despite having been looking for over 30 years, but not yet having found a program or environment that delivers the sort of flying I'm looking for with the flexibility that my hectic real-world lifestyle dictates, the opportunity to undertake a review of X-CPL-Pilot certainly piqued my interest.

    Will it tick the boxes though?

    What is X-CPL-Pilot?

    The X-CPL-Pilot web site describes the program as "a Windows-only GA-business simulation for X-Plane 11. (Now with Airliner support!)". I could not have put it more succinctly!

    The program places you in the role of an entrepreneur working as a pilot for hire. You get to choose the jobs you fly. You can choose to transport passengers or cargo from point-to-point. You can choose to fly a parachuting or sightseeing flight which is local to a single airport. You might choose to fly a crop-dusting flight. You could have the luxury of time or be up against a strict deadline. The possibilities are endless.

    All jobs generate income; all jobs also generate fees, and both are grounded in the real world and vary according to aircraft, airport size, season and pilot performance. It is therefore important to pick and choose your jobs carefully to ensure profitability.

    Installation, Activation And Set Up

    Installation is straightforward. X-CPL-Pilot is provided as a ZIP file which is simply extracted into X-Plane's plugins folder - there is no installer. It is therefore not going to be much of a surprise to learn that the program runs exclusively as an X-Plane plugin, and as such the simulator has to be running for the pilot to be able to interact with it. For me, this is a double-edged sword. In the first instance, there is the benefit of not needing to leave the simulation environment to be able to use the program, but in the second, the news that an upgrade is available only appears after you've opened it in X-Plane.

    I don't know about you, but I always feel like I'm missing out on something if I'm not running the latest and greatest version of a program, but with the long X-Plane load times that are becoming more common with high fidelity scenery and complex aircraft, I do sometimes baulk at the prospect of a reload. Fortunately, it is possible to continue without completing the upgrade.

    On first run, the program needs to be activated - which is completed through entry of the licence code that will be delivered on purchase into an activation dialog.

    To be able to function, the program builds a database of the airports and their various characteristics, and to reduce the amount of time that this compilation progress takes, the world is broken down into various regions. Before you start therefore, you need to decide where you want 'home' to be and choose the appropriate region. You're not stuck with your choice though, and it's possible in-game to initiate the build of other regions and to set up multiple "accounts" in different parts of the world and flip between them.

    Finally, you're asked to choose your home airport where you want to build your Fixed Based Operator (FBO) HQ. This is where all your early flights will depart, so choose wisely. If you elect to be based at a huge airport the costs will cripple you!

    I'm the proud owner of a (lapsed) New Zealand PPL earned in Tauranga. Given my familiarity with the area, and absolutely nothing to do with a hankering to go back there and fly again, NZTG is where I chose to establish my FBO.

    1 Comment
    1. Brucekn's Avatar
      Brucekn -
      Great review, Andrew. Interesting to see that you lived in Tauranga, I am from Greymouth (now in the Denver area). I also have my PPL, with instrument rating (done here in the US).
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