It has been a year now since the Fenix A320 first released for Microsoft Flight Simulator. Since then, a number of updates have been released based on feedback, but consensus was that the aircraft was a great first release from the new development team. Not content with that, the team were keen to update the plane based on feedback. Even though actual product updates have not dropped in a while, Fenix has been hard at work on a significant new version of the plane that improves just about every area of the aircraft.
In a massive blog post on the anniversary of the aircraft’s release, we have the first details on what to expect from the new version of the A320 from Fenix. There is a lot of detail on the post itself, so we’ll keep this to the major points before then linking you back to the original post to soak up those extra details for those looking for it.
This has been on the wish-list for many for a long-time now. It’s also an element that Fenix are completely aware of, but has always made clear that they will come when they have them correct. Instead of guessing figures and data, the team has developed a external engine model and used thousands of data points to accurately simulate the engines in Microsoft Flight Simulator. “Organising thousands of data points was also a heavy-duty task, as these needed to be laid out in a way that made sense for reference and use. And only thereafter, we started digging into and understanding how the engine behaves and reacts to different atmospheric conditions, and thereafter, differences in its own parameters.”
Once the data was there, a prototype of the infrastructure was made, before then bringing it all together to build a highly dynamic engine model that is “as best as possible”. Two videos were shared in the blog post giving you an idea of the thermal model of the engine’s core and also the cooldown. Both videos are soundless for now as they’re waiting on ‘sign-off’ before implementing any sound for the engine type.
The development of the IAE engines represent a signficiant investment for Fenix Simulations. “This development was an eye-watering investment, both in time and money, but the end result is an infrastructure we can use across various different aircraft engines, type agnostic. It’s a cool piece of tech that should help future Fenix products as much as it will help the IAEs right now – and for that reason it was worth pursuing.”
This is a very, very high-level overview of the engine model, and we highly suggest you read the full blog post to get the details behind how all the physics, systems, environment, and more all interact with one another to create a truly versatile and dynamic system.
Artwork and Performance
A key piece of feedback with the Fenix A320 was the performance side of things. In the post, Fenix explains that during development, the team developed their own display rendering system. At the time, this yielded in better performance than even the default A320NEO at the time. However, as Microsoft updated the simulator, the performance gains were marginal. Despite some refinement, the team pushed their own system as far as it could go.
Another area that Fenix found they were given a lot of feedback with was the artwork on the displays. Font, colours, and sizing were all commented on as being inaccurate. Fenix took this info and decided to completely overhaul the artwork on the displays. This lead to them focusing on both the art side and things and the performance of the plane.
Whilst Fenix has not divulged numbers or stats yet, the new process for rendering the complex displays has seen “some very encouraging results”. Further to improving the frame rates, VRAM usage is another area the team has focused on. They have rebuilt the exterior model almost from scratch, used some new texturing techniques in order to see a reduction in memory usage. “The overall savings are yet to be seen as we still have quite a bit of texturing left, but it’s already having a measurable positive impact on lower-end systems.“
Outside of improving the performance, some new lighting and shadow techniques have also been applied to the exterior model to make it even more realistic.
The blog post goes into a lot of detail about how the flight model has also seen a significant improvement. These fixes were targeted to:
- Crosswind Takeoffs
- Crosswind Landings
- Takeoff pitch input for rotation
- Landing Bouncy Castle Super Fun Times
Two video were shared showcasing a take off and landing in cross-wind conditions. Both examples come with before and after footage, showcasing the differences in the old and new flight models.
As mentioned before, the blog post itself goes into a lot more details about the specifics.
The final part of this long blog post is related to the EFB. The original developer behind the EFB, Katie, has moved onto a new stage in her real-world flying career (congratulations!), which has meant that a new team have been involved in overhauling the EFB. The foundations of the EFB have been completely rebuilt from scratch with modern Angular front-end application codebase to provide a more snappy feeling experience.
Performance changes are also part of this too, with the v-speed calculation now moving from the cloud to your PC to get almost instant results. Speaking of, you can now add a custom runway intersection should you require it.
Option to disable the lock screen. Reduced the time it takes to unlock the lock screen with the fingerprint. New virtual keyboard, with physical keyboard input support. You can now directly type into the boxes if you prefer. Virtual keyboard auto-closes itself after a valid value has been entered into the input field. Improved responsive styles – supporting more display sizes and resolutions. Some users reported the UI not working correctly, now it will! Did somebody mention IAEs? IAE performance data has been added for the calculators.On new EFB features – Feinx blog post
This concluded the post from Fenix. As said throughout, our post scratches the surface on what Fenix had to say about all of the changes and work that has happened behind the scenes. It’s a worthwhile read and one you should check out. There is no word on when the update will be made available, but we’ll keep you informed.
We’ll be sure to keep you updated with any further updates from the Fenix team about the A320 for Microsoft Flight Simulator. If you want to pick up the current version of the A320 for Microsoft Flight Simulator, you can do so from their website for £49.99.