A few days ago, Flight Sim Labs teased what would be a “super cool” new feature for their upcoming A319 product. Today, they have announced on their forum what this tease was all about. One of the biggest safety concerns for any pilot is icing. Icing that forms on the fuselage, wings or control surfaces of the aircraft can cause detrimental effects if not properly treated. Whilst other aircraft have attempt to simulate icing within the sim, FSLabs are announcing their custom-built “ground-breaking” new icing model.
The new icing model, which will be made for the A319 at first, will feature a wealth of new features not yet seen in a flight simulator. The team say that ice, frost and contamination will build up dynamically on the airframe based on numerous in-sim atmospheric conditions. This will include temperature, humidity, sun elevation and other factors including fuel and realistic ‘cold soak’ effects. Not only will it build up, but then depending on the conditions, the ice and snow will melt dynamically too. This data has been taken from thermal models and data from many test flights. So during walk-arounds, you will need to check the wings, tail, fuselage, engine nacelles and spinners to ensure they’re free from ice. Furthermore, in the FSLabs A319-X you’ll be able to see ice building up dynamically on the flight deck ice probe. Alternatively the electronic ice detectors that are fitted to some A319s, which display an ECAM alert when ice is detected, can be optionally enabled via the MCDU.
“The biggest consideration is the departure,” says Captain Peter Banner. Peter flies the A319, A320 and A321 for a large UK airline and is part of the FSL technical team who help verify the A319-X’s performance against real world data on an ongoing basis. “Having ice or snow on the flying surfaces will degrade the aircraft performance. So, pre-flight a good check of the weather actuals and forecast so that you can make a plan is a good start.
Not only will there be visuals and effects included, but also there will be performance impacts on the aircraft itself. FSLabs said that other developers have used a ‘brute-force’ approach by simply adding weight to the aircraft to simulate the effect of ice. However, it is stressed that the greatest danger is from the the interrupted airflow over the wing and control surfaces.
With all this ice and snow now impacting your flight, it’s now also the responsibility of the pilot to ensure they resolve the issues. Included in the A319-X is a brand new de- and anti-icing simulation. You can select the type of fluid, the level of dilution and the ground crew will apply it to the aircraft in real time. Not only that, but the icing model will include a realistic and dynamic hold-over time based on external conditions, fluid type and time passed. If the right conditions are met, ice will build back up and you’ll have to treat the aircraft again, or face the consequences.
“Hold over times, are a guide only,” continues Peter. “Changing actual conditions could change the initial calculations and a pre-departure check is always required. This can be from the flight deck if the initial conditions have remained the same or are better. If they are worse, though, then a visual check from the crew outside or a pilot from inside the cabin is required.”
“This is a truly unique feature,” said Flight Sim Labs founder Lefteris Kalamaras. “It’s something that we really wanted to focus on as a team as it really adds to the immersion factor. Pilots in the real world have to deal with the potential for icing during their day-to-day operations – it’s a really important part of operating the aeroplane. As a simmer, the A319-X will enable you to experience this in a truly realistic way.”
The A319-X will be available as a paid expansion to the Prepar3D v4 version of the A320-X. We asked FSLabs whether this technology will be ported to the A320-X and the answer is yes. However, as each model is designed specifically for the aircraft type, it’s not a “copy and paste” job.
No word on a release date, but we see now why this was described as a ‘super cool’ announcement.
[Source – Press release sent to us by FSLabs in advance. When a URL is available, we’ll add it in]