• AFS Design's Eurofighter

    AFS Design's Eurofighter for FSX

    By Bill Stack (3 September 2009)


    Screen shots by AFS Design



    The Eurofighter is single-seat, twin-engine fighter and ground-attack aircraft with delta and canard wings designed and built by European companies. About 150 have been built since first flight in 1994, and more than 450 are on order. They are flown by the air forces of Britain, Germany, Italy, and Spain, among others. The aircraft's computerized fly-by-wire control gives it high stability in supersonic and subsonic speeds. Its fully glass cockpit contains no conventional instruments. A two-seat model is used for training.

    AFS Design made this aircraft because "I like it," says Andreas Meyer, the developer. AFS Design is Mr. Meyer's business enterprise.

    Two versions are available: One is for FS2004, and the other (sold separately) is available for FSX. I reviewed the FSX version. Each version has more than 80 models for five countries.

    United Kingdom Germany Italy Spain Saudi Arabia

    Eurofighter Liveries

    Screen shots by Bill Stack



    Major Features

    AFS Designs touts the following among many features:

    • Single pilot model
    • Dual-pilot model for training
    • Complete cockpit
    • Tail hook
    • Detailed landing gear
    • Afterburner and smoke
    • Real animations

    This aircraft package can be easily downloaded in a few minutes from the FlightSim Pilot Shop. A license key is required, but an end user license agreement is not required. The installation program extracts all needed files quickly.

    Taxiing Taking Off Speed Braking

    Exterior Views

    Screen shots by Bill Stack



    Visual Features

    This aircraft is visually impressive in all its various liveries.

    • All major features are accurately and reasonably detailed. I found no extraneous details that diminish frame rates while being visible from only close up.

    • All liveries are remarkably realistic compared to photos of real-world Eurofighters I found on the Internet.

    • The standard two-dimensional panel and the virtual three-dimensional represent the instrument panels and cockpits accurately compared with real-world photos.

    • Readability of instruments is good on my LCD monitor.

    • Popup windows show controls to the pilot's left and right such as electrical switches, fuel switches, GPS, and radios.

    • Frame rates are good. They ranged between 10 and 20 while my display settings were on "Default" (20 frames per second), and they ranged between 30 and 50 with my settings on "Unlimited."



    2D Daytime Heads-up Display 2D Nighttime
    3D Dawn 3D Daytime 3D Dusk

    Cockpit

    Screen shots by Bill Stack



    Technical Features

    This aircraft's many technical features provide a higher than normal level of simulation than some aircraft. The panels have many working switches and controls to realistically simulate flight in a fighter aircraft.

    The glass instruments are well done. The multi-function display (MFD) includes pages for navigation, global positioning system (GPS), engines, radar, fuel, hydraulics, and communications. Functions are changed by clicking on the buttons to the left and right of the displays. Their uses and operations are explained in the manual. Instruments in the main panel and popup windows are readable within the restraints of a home flight simulator.

    Canopy Open and Ladder Down In Tow Tow-truck Cabin

    Eurofighter and Tow Truck

    Screen shots by Bill Stack



    Flight Modeling

    Having never flown a real Eurofighter, I can't verify its flight modeling. This model banks and turns immediately and easily like a Cessna 152, but at a much higher airspeed. I did go-arounds, which include take-offs, climbout outs, turns, level flight, descents, and landings, and I climbed to altitude and cruised for a few minutes. I also climbed and dove steeply and returned to level flight with ease.


    Dusk

    Night

    Night

    Night Effects


    Screen shots by Bill Stack


    Nice Features

    Versions for FS2004 and FSX are available as separate packages.

    A 33-page manual in German and English in Adobe Acrobat format is included with the package. Users do not need to go to any web site to download it. The manual contains the following information about the aircraft:

    • Complete performance and technical data,
    • Installation instructions,
    • Keyboard commands for animated features,
    • Panel and instrument descriptions and instructions,
    • Checklists, and
    • Annotated screen shots with explanations.

    Sounds seem realistic. I have never been near any Eurofighters, but the sounds are like those I have heard from similar military aircraft.

    The tow truck can be driven around the airport with the aircraft in tow. I wondered if the rig (truck and aircraft) would fly away if I throttled up, and they didn't. They moved about the airport grounds and steered like ground vehicles. I towed the aircraft from one end of the taxiway to the other. The screen shot doesn't show movement, of course.

    The canopy and nose cone open, and the pilot ladder extend.

    The two rear-view mirrors show views behind the aircraft.


    Sample Pages From the Manual

    Screen shots by Bill Stack



    Issues

    Although this aircraft is very impressive, I do have several issues with the product.

    The installation program says its for FSX, but it wants to install the aircraft files in Flight Simulator 9, as shown in my screen shot. I had to change the installation folder to FSX. I also tried installing this in FS2004 per the installation program, but the aircraft did not appear in the FS2004 installation folder because FS2004 cannot recognize aircraft intended for FSX. In response to my question about this, Mr. Meyer instructed me to change the folder from "Flight Simulator 9" to "FSX," but the manual says nothing about this.

    With 83 models being added to the simulator, 83 pictures are added to the aircraft-selection menu. More than 20 models and pictures are added for the German version alone, as one example. All these models are nice to have, and the developer spent a lot of time making them, but they occupy a large portion of the aircraft-selection list. In response to my question about why this aircraft is available in so many models, the developer seemed defensive and annoyed. I will leave to buyers the decision about the usefulness and necessity of all those models.

    Checklists and reference data are not presented in the kneeboard as customary. Instead, they're in the 33-page manual, which we must print or view while the Adobe Acrobat program is running. Performance of the flight simulator is always reduced when other programs are running simultaneously. Checklists and reference sheets for the kneeboard are not difficult to make and are handy for users.

    Weight and fuel capacity data in the Fuel-and-Payload menu differ slightly from those in the manual and those I found on the Internet. For example, the Fuel-and-Payload menu shows maximum fuel weight at 11,113 kilograms and gross weight at 25,401 kg while the manual and Internet show 11,000 kg and 23,500 kg respectively. The minor differences in these data do not materially affect performance, however, unless somebody simply wants absolute perfection.

    The virtual cockpit shows no instruments in its night view, as shown in my screen shot. (It shows all instruments in its dawn, day, and dusk views, as shown in those screen shots). In response to my question, Mr. Meyer said my installation must have been wrong and advised me to uninstall and reinstall. I did so, but nothing changed. The nighttime virtual cockpit still had no instruments after I uninstalled and reinstalled. In response to my followup question, Mr. Meyer said he tested his aircraft on six different computers and he had tested it again for eight hours and it worked perfectly. He sent me a screen shot with a normal virtual cockpit in night view, but I was still unable to produce it myself.

    The aircraft rolls down the runway, takes off, and flies with the canopy open and the cockpit ladder attached. These items also open and close while the aircraft is flying. Both of these conditions are absurd, of course.

    Screen shots in the English manual are in German. Users can figure them out from the visuals, however.

    Two of the popup windows are labeled in German: The electrical panel is called "Konsole," and the yoke is called "Knüppel." The konsole is easy enough for us English speakers to figure out because the spelling is so similar, but I had to open the knüppel to see that it's the yoke.

    Installation Program Aircraft Selection Menu Empty Checklists Empty Reference Sheet
    3D Virtual Cockpit at Night Canopy Open During Take-Off Canopy Open During Flight

    Examples of Issues
    Screen shots by Bill Stack



    Screen Shots

    My screen shots were made with FSX display settings on "default" because that's what I presume most flight simmers would be using and because the package recommends no special settings. I made one screen shot with the frame rate set on "unlimited" to see what rates were possible, and they were unexpectedly high.

    Summary

    This aircraft for FSX in all its models is very impressive, and it will surely provide users many hours of flight-simulation enjoyment. The manual's inclusion with the product (instead of being downloadable from a web site) is an important feature. I believe the developer when he says he spent many hours making this product. The noted technical flaws need to be corrected before this product is all it can and should be.

    Bill Stack


    Learn More About AFS Design's Eurofighter for FS2004

    Learn More About AFS Design's Eurofighter for FSX


    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


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