Sean Moloney, best known for his work at RealAir, has recently returned to the flight sim world after a prolonged absence. With him, he brings a new development studio, a new product line, but most importantly, a new plane, the Vertx DA-62. From the ashes of RealAir comes Sean’s talent roaring back into life. Today, we’re taking a first look into exactly what Vertx have been up to and what you can soon expect in your simulator. But first, a little history about the DA-62.
Note: The Vertx DA-62 is currently in pre-release beta. This is a first look article made to deliver my impressions of the pre-release version of the plane. Features are subject to change.
The DA-62 is a twin-engine GA aircraft produced by Diamond Aircraft, capable of seating between 5-7 people based on configuration. Having only taken its first flight as a prototype back in 2012, the DA-62 is a modern airplane through and through, sporting advanced and efficient diesel engines, as well a modern carbon fiber fuselage and wing construction, and a well-appointed cockpit fitted with state of the art G1000 avionics (later models come equipped with the G1000NXi suite) as well as modern amenities such as push-button engine start and automatic ECU test. An end result is a plane that is as modern as it is easy to fly, and as luxurious as it is capable. Truly a well-rounded workhorse.
The DA-62 variant that is modeled by Vertx is the 2014 model year, which sports the older (but still plenty capable) regular G1000 avionics while retaining all of the other features listed above. Included with the product are several high-quality liveries of real-world planes, as well as a gorgeous model both inside and out. Elements of the aircraft that are normally left undetailed to save performance have had no such corners cut, and everywhere from the sides of the center console to the 3rd-row seats are modeled in the same high quality as the focal points of the airplane, like the G1000.
This plane is wonderfully modern. Push button start is something to behold, and substituting a run up with an ECU test at the push of a button can only be described as a time and life saver. If you look deeper into these systems, however, you’ll discover a whole new world of complexity being abstracted away from the pilots’ attention. Thankfully for system nerds and feature-chasers alike, Vertx hasn’t taken the liberty of this abstraction to miss out on detail. Instead, they have swung the pendulum the other way and gone into more detail than I tend to see in most planes I try. For example, here is a quote regarding the glow plugs given to another beta tester:
“There’s no amber alert, but you do get a white alert on the CAS when they’re not up to temp. If they’re not up to temp when you hit the starter the engine start will fail. Most of the time it’s warm enough that they heat up quickly so you barely notice them, and if you press the starter before they’ve warmed up they’ll often reach temperature while the starter motor is still spinning so you’ll get a successful if slightly rough sounding start. I also set them to heat up and cool down with the engine temperature so if the engine has been running within the last couple of minutes there’s a good chance they’ll be hot enough for an immediate start.”
This is the kind of detail seldom found outside of the established names in the flight sim world, which makes me hopeful for the future of Vertx and the DA-62 project as a whole.
This airplane, in concert with all of its detail, runs great. I experienced FPS I seldom expect to extract out of the sim anymore on my aging 6600k. Stable and smooth FPS rocketing well past the 45FPS mark flying into, out of, and over Orbx scenery. This is consistent and competitive with A2A and Carenado planes of past, which is of course to say very welcome.
Should anything within the plane not be entirely up to your wishes however, you can dive head first into the feature-rich configuration tool to tweak and tune every aspect of the airplane to your heart’s content. From the configuration tool you can view information about the installation of the product, such as your serial, airplane version, simulator version, and G1000 version. You can also view statistics about the airframe that is unique to your simulator (think a simplified Accusim stat tracker.) This shows you information like total time in service, engine times, landing cycles, and even average ground speed for the life of the airframe. This is all just information though, let’s look at what you can actually tweak regarding the airplane.
With this plane you are given the usual battery of options, such as the option to pick the airplane’s panel state upon loading (cold and dark, ready to fly, and last used.) You are also given options to speed up the starting of certain components in the airplane, like the G1000 mentioned earlier (the real G1000 takes just over a minute to start, which is modeled here in the simulator). You can also disable a host of graphical improvements (such as dust, window reflections, and window grime) to suit your personal tastes, as well as modify the intensity of animations critical to understanding the behavior of the aircraft. For example, say you really don’t like screen shaking, you can turn the engine start torque reaction animation down to very low (or even off) from very high, reducing screen-shaking during engine start. The same can be done for general engine vibration, touchdown thump, stall buffeting, overspeed buffeting, and wing flex to name a few. You can also use this configuration manager to refill your supplementary oxygen tanks, as well as your deicing fluid. Yes, this plane has consumables that you need to manually refill as they are consumed, lest you risk running out in a time of need.
Talking about the G1000, yes it really looks like that in the simulator. I have personally never seen such convincing reflections and depth to a screen in the simulator before, barring the convincing curvature of the CRT screens in the PMDG QoTS II. Despite having to disable mipmapping of gauges in order to solve some minor artifacting on the displays, I was more than blown away by how they looked. I spoke to a real-world pilot who frequently flies a G1000 equipped plane, and he told me that across any platform this G1000 implementation is the most realistic looking one to date that he has ever seen. Emphasis was put especially on the actual look of the display technology Garmin uses to combat glare. What does this mean for you and I as average simmers? It simply means they are a stunner to look at, and even better to use.
After consulting my contact further, I began studying up on how to use the G1000. The Carenado implementation needs to leave your head, this is a different beast entirely. About the only knowledge you can call upon from the Carenado unit is basic operations of some of the wedding cake controls. Even then that won’t get you far until you realize you have to press in on the inner ring of the FMS wedding cake after opening the FPL menu to use the outer ring to scroll through different elements within the menu. Like I said, different beast. For the real world pilots out there, I promise you will feel right at home with this system, feeling just as frustrated with it in the simulator as you do in real life. One notable absence from this plane so far is the optional pop-out G1000 controlling keyboard that you can order as an option for your DA-62. With the option equipped, one of the armrests can fold out into a keyboard for the unit. I am hoping Vertx finds a way to implement this option as it would make inputting data orders of magnitude easier. While this may sound as though I bear a negative opinion of the plane’s use of the G1000, this could not be further from the truth. The G1000 is renowned for being difficult to use, and the fact that I got so frustrated with basic use that I had to consult the manual means that Vertx hit the nail on the head.
The trend of superb detail and execution ripples through everything this plane does. The sounds are executed well, making heavy use of 3D spatial audio for those of us who like to move our heads around a bunch in the cockpit, even if at times the effect may seem a little too pronounced to be realistic. The flight dynamics are something I am unable to vouch for the authenticity of, but to my sim-hands they feel nothing short of stellar. The plane is responsive and nimble, and reacts instantly to power. It’s like flying a smaller and more nimble Q400 with the throttle response. This plane is well and truly a well-rounded airplane. In the age where it seems every addon needs to make trade offs, the Vertx DA stands out as an airplane of no bounds. It sees no real limits in any direction, it feels, for maybe the first time ever in this simulator, like it is a no-compromises product. I’m confident you’ll feel the same way.