Just Flight announced on February 5, 2019 that their in-house development team has plans for porting their Duchess 76 light twin trainer to Aerofly FS2. The announcement was brief and without any details about the source of the porting, P3D v4.4, FSX-steam, or X-Plane 11. Is that important? It could be, depending on how much time and effort Just Flight is willing to devote to learning a totally new flight simulator.
With two tries at cracking this nut by 3rd party airplane developers, both have given up at producing the first payware airplane for AFS2. One gave up, due to insufficient SDK documentation and the complex and undocumented tmd text files. The other chose to make his S-211 freeware, although his S-211 continues as payware in competing sims.
Of course, we have no way of knowing whether the Just Flight team has been tutored in the nuisances of rigidbody text coding or if there is indeed some additional documentation available only to select developers that explains more capabilities of the SDK. We can hope the learning curve is less steep for Just Flight than the other two developers.
My personal opinion is the success or failure of the Aerofly FS2 versions or editions of the Just Flight in-house treasure trove will depend on the bottom line – how many users purchase the add-ons. Should JF be aggressive and assume it may take more than one light twin to make us eager to go for our wallets and credit cards on day of release. Which add-on would you suggest for that 2nd one? Maybe even the 3rd one?
We as users and customers probably can’t really make an informed decision until we see the depth and detail of the Duchess for Aerofly FS2. I hope that Just Flight is not expecting us to run for the BUY button with a Duchess based on the current level of the IPACS default aircraft.
With practically no systems depth to speak of, no fuel system, no failures, no working GPS/GTN gauges, no popup windows for aircraft or system options, no weight and balance, no mixture effects, no official cold and dark for most of the aircraft, no interactive anything, no real IFR set ups, no flight planning or flight plan monitoring. What would be the motivational factors that would make us pay for the Duchess other than just one more airplane with a lot of limitations?
Now, providing JF chooses to explore and is successful in adding a few of the missing items from the previous paragraph with some nifty features like an outside the cockpit walk around to check the oil, drain the water from the fuel lines and visually inspect the moving parts of the Duchess. A simple fuel system – ability to add fuel based on a flight plan and payload and monitor depletion based on elapsed time, power settings and mixture. Full feathering props for sure. Some effort at a weight and balance check with flight dynamics and fuel weight effects and of aft CG and overweight conditions. Cold and Dark startups and shutdown are a given.
I would like to see AFS2 move forward with a GPS system and especially the ability to add 3rd party GPS/GTNs to the panel. Some sort of popup window will eventually have to be introduced. Little things like optional 3d Lights Redux and rain effects on the windshield and windows are not unreasonable.
Not that everything mentioned has to be available on day one. Just Flight recently did a massive update for most of their X-Plane add-ons to make use of recently available features. This included rain effects, improved VR, improved sounds, better flight dynamics and optimizations and improvement where practical. These were for the Piper PA-28 family, C152, Tobago and Trinidad, and the Hawk T1/A. The exact same list of add-ons that will be considered for porting to AFS2. These were all free updates to the customers.
While we wait for updated screenshots and progress reports on the Duchess, we can spend some time at the Just Flight web site browsing and becoming familiar with just what might be the 2nd and 3rd AFS2 add-on.
I’m guessing that whatever JF selects will be on the in-house development teams list. The search string is difficult to find, but use this link for a fairly comprehensive list. I notice the DHC-1 Chipmunk is not on the list so there are probably others. https://www.justflight.com/category/developed-in-house
There may be dual paths in the selection of add-ons as candidates for porting over to AFS2. This might be the general aviation models like any one of the Piper PA-28 family, the Cessna 152, the Socata Tobago and Trinidad or Tomahawk. I would expect the Flying Club 2018 would be popular, especially with those that are looking for some hometown flying in the U.K. This packages 3 popular models and Conington airfield.
The other path would be more military related and start with the Hawk T1/A Advanced Trainer, the Tornado GR1 and F3, the Avro Vulcan, the Canberra PR9, and the DHC-1 Chipmunk. The other dark horse would be the L-1011 Tristar.
We each have our own reason for wishing or wanting a particular add-on to be chosen. My personal vote goes to the C152 and one of the high-end Arrows, like the Arrow III and Turbo IV bundle. But, at the end of the day, I would be pleased with anything on the list. We should be informed of the possible choices just in case someone does ask our opinion. The response of the VR users will probably determine whether we continue to have more 3rd party add-ons or not. I expect someone to ask IPACS when will they discover stereo sounds. It must be difficult to add good realistic sounds without having stereo available.
I am expecting a surge of animation and moving objects soon. Jeff is evidently close to releasing some street and water traffic in the South Florida DLC. We already have wind turbines thanks to Aerosoft’s Helgoland scenery pack and we have some airport ramp movements and some basic animated characters from Orbx.
We should be ready for a barrage of excuses for not pushing the envelope, but, on the other side of the coin isn’t this supposed to be the most modern of all sim engines? If a third party is doing the pushing then IPACS would not have the excuse that the features are not in their current game plan or would require reassignments of valuable resources. Heck, I am expecting features we are yet to see in any of the existing competitive flight sims. What do you think?