About X-Plane 10
From X-Plane Wiki
X-Plane is the world’s most comprehensive and powerful flight simulator for personal computers, and it offers the most realistic flight model available.
X-Plane is not a game, but an engineering tool that can be used to predict the flying qualities of fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft with incredible accuracy.
Because X-Plane predicts the performance and handling of almost any aircraft, it is a great tool for pilots to keep up their currency in a simulator that flies like the real plane, for engineers to predict how a new airplane will fly, and for aviation enthusiasts to explore the world of aircraft flight dynamics.
Welcome to the world of props, jets, single- and multi-engine airplanes, as well as gliders, helicopters and VTOLs. X-Plane contains subsonic and supersonic flight dynamics, allowing users to predict the flight characteristics of the slowest aircraft or the fastest. X-Plane also includes more than 30 aircraft in the default installation, spanning the aviation industry and its history. Aircraft included range from the Bell 206 JetRanger and Cessna 172 to the Space Shuttle and the B-2 Bomber. Additionally, more than 1,400 additional aircraft models can be downloaded from the Internet (X-Plane.org, the X-Plane.com Links page, and Google are good places to start looking), many of which are completely free. If those aren’t enough, users can design their own airplanes and test-fly them!
The full X-Plane scenery package covers the Earth in stunning resolution from 74° north to 60° south latitude. On Earth, users can land at any of over 33,000 airports or test their mettle on aircraft carriers, oil rigs, frigates (which pitch and roll with the waves), or helipads atop buildings. They can also realistically model the flight of remote-controlled model aircraft, perform an air-launch in an X-15 or Space Ship One from the mother ship, fly re-entries into Earth’s atmosphere in the Space Shuttle, fly with friends over the Internet or a LAN, drop water on forest fires, or shoot approaches to aircraft carriers at night in stormy weather and rough water conditions in a damaged F-4. The situations that can be simulated are unbelievably diverse!
Weather in X-Plane is variable from clear skies and high visibility to thunderstorms with controllable wind, wind shear, turbulence, and micro bursts. Rain, snow, and clouds are available for an instrument flying challenge, and thermals are available for the gliders. Actual weather conditions can be downloaded from the Internet, allowing users to fly in the weather that really exists at their current location!
X-Plane has detailed failure modeling, with multitudes of systems that can either be failed manually at an instructor’s command, or randomly when users least expect it! Users can fail instruments, engines, flight controls, control cables, antennae, landing gear, or any of dozens of other systems at any moment. They can also have a friend or flight instructor (locally or via the Internet, working from an Instructor’s Operating Station) fail components on the aircraft without the pilot’s knowledge. The instructor can alter the time of day, weather conditions, and failure status of hundreds of aircraft systems and components. Additionally, the instructor can relocate the aircraft to a location of his or her choice at any time.
Aircraft models are also extremely flexible, allowing users to easily create paint jobs, sounds, and instrument panels to modify any airplane you choose. Custom airplane or helicopter designs can even be created and flown using X-Plane and the included Plane Maker software.
X-Plane is used by world-leading defense contractors, air forces, aircraft manufacturers, and even space agencies for applications ranging from flight training to concept design and flight testing.
For example, X-Plane has been used in crash investigations to depict the view pilots experienced moments before a mid-air collision, or to graphically present to juries and judges the forces that impact an aircraft in flight. Scaled Composites used X-Plane to visualize Space Ship One’s flights to the edge of the atmosphere in their pilot training simulator. Kalitta has used X-Plane to train their pilots to fly freight 747s in the middle of the night. Northwest and Japan Airlines use X-Plane for flight review and training. Cessna uses X-Plane to train new customers in the intricacies of the Garmin G1000. Dave Rose has used X-Plane to optimize airplanes for his many wins at Reno. NASA has used X-Plane to test the re-entry of gliders into the Martian atmosphere, and the list goes on. These customers serve as perhaps the most significant endorsement of the incredible capabilities of this simulator.
Furthermore, X-Plane has received certification from the FAA for use in logging hours towards flight experience and ratings. This experience can provide credit towards a private pilot’s license, recurrence training, hours towards instrument training, and even hours towards an Airline Transport Certificate—it’s that good.
What X-Plane Includes
Windows, Mac, and Linux installers are included on the discs purchased from X-Plane.com. There are over 70 GB-worth of scenery (covering essentially the entire world) and over thirty aircraft, with thousands of planes available on the web. The DVDs contain everything needed to run X-Plane—there is nothing more that you need to buy. You’ll receive free updates to X-Plane 10 until Version 11 is released, as well some of the best customer service and tech support available.
While on its own X-Plane represents the world’s most comprehensive flight simulator, the installation DVD also comes with Plane Maker, allowing users to create custom aircraft or modify existing designs, and Airfoil Maker, allowing users to create airfoil performance profiles.
The stock installation includes the following aircraft:
|Cirrus Vision SF50||X-15 and X-30 X-Planes|
|Beechcraft Baron 58||Lancair Evolution|
|Cessna 172SP||McDonnell Douglas KC-10 Extender|
|Piaggo P.180 Avanti||Boeing 747-400 and 747-100|
|Stinson L-5 Sentinel||Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey|
|ASK-21 glider||Boeing B-52G Stratofortress|
|Bell 47 helicopter||Van’s RV-3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10|
|Beechcraft King Air C90B||Rockwell B-1B Lancer|
|F-22 Raptor||Viggen JA37|
|Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird||F-4 Phantom II|
|Bombardier Canadair CL-415||Mars Jet, Mars Rocket|
|Boeing 777-200||Bell 206 helicopter|
|Piper PA-46 Malibu||Boeing AV-8B Harrier II|
|Northrop B-2 Spirit||Sikorsky S-61 helicopter|
|Robinson R22 Beta helicopter||Space Shuttle Orbiter|
|Great Planes PT-60 RC plane||Thunder Tiger Raptor 30 v2 RC helicopter|
Of course, the thousands of aircraft available on the Internet provide even greater variety. The following is a (small) sample of what’s out there:
|Beechcraft Bonanza||Boeing 727/ 737/ 747/ 787|
|Mooney M20J 201||Piper PA-16 Clipper|
|de Havilland DH-106 Comet||Pitts “Mountain Dew” S2C|
|Sikorsky S76||StratoCloud Ram-Air|
|P-51D Mustang||Piper Twin Comanche PA30|
|Beechcraft King Air 350||Cessna 195|
|Cessna C150||Bell 222|
|Douglas A-4B Skyhawk||Ilyushin IL-76|
|Fiat CR.42 Falco||Paris Jet III|
|Bell 407||Peregrine F222 Firenze|
|Beechcraft Staggerwing||Curtis P-6 Hawk|
|Ford Tri-motor||Cessna 120|
|Hawker Sea Harrier FRS1||Airbus A320/ A340/ A380|
About the Two Versions of the X-Plane Simulator
X-Plane can be used in a wide array of situations, ranging from home use to commercial flight training. The standard installation of X-Plane is X-Plane 10 Global, and it is perfect for almost all home users. Situations that go beyond the standard home use (including use in commercial simulators) require the purchase of a USB “key” (a simple flash drive) that is used to unlock the features of X-Plane Professional.
Note that FAA certification of a simulator requires not only that the user has X-Plane 10 Professional but also the appropriate hardware (cockpit and flight controls) available through companies like Precision Flight Controls and Fidelity. This is because flight-training systems can only be certified as a complete package (a software and hardware combination). The commercial, FAA-certifiable software is available for \$750 to \$1,000 per copy and the hardware runs from \$5,000 to \$500,000. The retail version of X-Plane purchased at [www.x-plane.com X-Plane.com] is not certified for flight training right out of the box, since certification requires a software and hardware combination. However, the software available for about \$80 at X-Plane.com is almost identical what is found in the \$500,000 full-motion, FAA-certified platforms. The biggest difference is that the FAA-certified versions have custom aircraft files with larger instrument panels, which are set up to work with hardware radios like those found in the physical cockpits. The FAA-certifiable version also has some of the purely fun stuff (like space flight) removed even though those situations are simulated accurately in X-Plane, just like the FAA-certified subsonic terrestrial flight.
X-Plane 10 Global
The standard X-Plane simulator is the retail copy of X-Plane. It requires one X-Plane 10 Disc 1 DVD for each copy of X-Plane on the network.
This simulator is what users get when they purchase X-Plane from the X-Plane.com site and use it for whatever they desire. It requires no USB key to be plugged in. Many copies of X-Plane on many computers can be networked to act as external visuals, external cockpits, instructor stations, and the like. One X-Plane Disc 1 DVD is required for each computer networked together running the simulator. This system cannot be certified by the FAA or any other authority for logging flight training, due to the fact that it does not self-test for the presence of flight controls or a usable frame rate. However, since only one X-Plane Disc 1 DVD is needed for each computer, this setup is amazingly affordable and easy to assemble at almost no cost, even though a user could never certify the system.
X-Plane 10 Professional
This version of X-Plane is for commercial use, FAA-approved simulators, and the EFIS App. It requires one X-Plane Professional USB key for each copy of X-Plane or EFIS App on the network.
This is similar to the X-Plane 10 Global simulator, but it adds EFIS App, a standalone program that runs on its own computer that gives a very realistic Avidyne primary flight display (PFD) and multi-function display (MFD). All that is required to run this is a copy of X-Plane or EFIS App from X-Plane.com and a Professional key for each computer that will be networked into the simulator. Of course, two monitors can be hooked up to one computer running EFIS App so that one only has to buy one computer to run both the Avidyne PFD and MFD, which will save some money.
Furthermore, this key enables X-Plane to drive real Garmin G430 and G1000 GPS units. Note that in order to interface with a real G430 or G1000, users must get a Simulator G430 or G1000 from Garmin, then make the wiring harnesses to plug them in to the serial or Ethernet cables to the computer. Users unsure on how to do this are better off buying a simulator boxed and ready to go from Precision Flight Controls. PFC does provide ready-made units with real G430s and G1000s installed and running.
Additionally, this is the key that needs to be used for commercial purposes and FAA-approved simulators for flight training. It gives a Commercial Use message as X-Plane starts up, causing X-Plane to check for flight controls and self-test the frame rate, as required for FAA certification.
Finally, this key enables cylindrical and spherical projections.
This is the option designed to replace Microsoft ESP.
Note that the Professional key, along with the simulator itself, can be purchased from X-Plane.com’s Ordering page. EFIS App can be downloaded from the X-Plane.com site. USB key drivers for both Mac OS and Windows can be downloaded from the X-Plane.com site. Run those installers to make X-Plane recognize the USB keys.
Many people ask us about the history of X-Plane, how we got started and where we’re going. Here’s some background information about Austin Meyer (the author) and the history of X-Plane.
As you may know, the most popular flight simulator on the market historically is Microsoft Flight Simulator. This may be predominately due to their early start with their flight simulator, which dates back to about 1982 or so. Over the years, there have been many other upstart companies that have attempted to compete against Microsoft (Flight-Unlimited, Fly and Fly-2k are a few examples). All but X-Plane have failed. From the very beginning, the greatest advantage of using X-Plane was in the way the flight model is generated and the high frame-rate at which X-Plane can run. This has long given us an advantage in being able to accurately calculate and depict the flight response and feel of an aircraft in flight. In the past, Microsoft had scenery that was superior to that of X-Plane, as well as many more add-ons. Microsoft’s advantage here mostly died about mid-way through the X-Plane 8 run. X-Plane 10 marks another leap forward in our simulator, what we unhesitatingly believe to be the greatest flight simulator available.
Over the years, we’ve consistently seen increasing sales, with a total of about 750, 000 copies of X-Plane shipped through either Internet orders or retailers as of April 2009 (not counting the 500, 000 copies of the new iPhone apps!). Furthermore, X-Plane is the only single commercial flight simulator available for the Macintosh, Windows, and Linux platforms. The set of discs sold at X-Plane.com includes copies for all three, so there is no possibility that a user will pick up the wrong version for his or her computer. (Note that some retailers have been known to stock Windows-only or Macintosh-only copies of X-Plane or sell X-Plane without global scenery to keep costs down. Read the box carefully if buying from a store shelf.)
Aside from the improved accuracy and fluidity found in X-Plane, another big difference between Microsoft’s simulator and our own is that, whereas Microsoft releases updates about every three years or so, we release updates for X-Plane about every ten weeks! Thus, instead of buying a disc and having the software remain stagnant for the next thirty-six months, X-Plane encourages users to go to our website every three months or so and download cool new (and free) updates to their software!
In short, we are a few very driven and talented people that have made the improvement and accuracy of X-Plane pretty much our life’s mission.
Austin's Bio, As of Mid-2006
Hi! I am a private pilot with about 1, 500 hours in a handful of light and medium-size Cessna and Piper singles (the airplanes I grew up flying) and a Cirrus SR-22 Centennial Edition 8141Q, which I purchased in 2003. In a month or so, I will be switching to a Lancair Columbia 400 for maximum speed to hop around the country serving customers. (My customer support guy, Randy Witt, flies a Beech Baron. I’m telling you this to make the point that the guys that write and support X-Plane are pilots, aircraft owners, and engineers. Aviation is a huge part of our lives, and we love what we’re doing.)
Anyway, back in 1988 or so, after I had gotten my instrument rating in the calm and friendly skies of Columbia, South Carolina, I found myself in San Diego, California, working for DuPont Aerospace, a small aerospace tech firm working, on some excellent but unusual designs that I cannot discuss in detail.
I must digress here for a moment because this is interesting and also applicable to one of the aircraft in X-Plane. One of the projects that DuPont was working on back then was the well-known NASP, or National Aerospace Plane, a single-stage-to-orbit aircraft that can, in theory, take off from a runway and fly clear to orbit. Tony DuPont, the president of the company, was the founder of this ingenious NASP concept. While the Space Shuttle and other conventional rockets use rocket engines to blast up to their orbital speed (18,000 mph), the NASP breathes air to run its engines, so it must do most of its acceleration in the atmosphere. This use of the oxygen in the atmosphere, rather than carrying liquid oxygen on board, makes the vehicle much more light and efficient, but it also means that the aircraft must fly at many, many thousands of miles per hour in the air, which creates tremendous heat and drag. Circulating cool fuel through the skin of an aircraft is not a new idea... in fact the bell-shaped nozzles on most rocket engines employ this technology to keep them from melting! For the NASP, this is one of the few options that will keep the skin temperatures down and allow hypersonic flight (that is, flight at five times the speed of sound or greater). You might think that using an insulated tile system like the one the Space Shuttle has would be a good option, but maintaining and replacing thousands of small tiles would be problematic, bulky, and expensive. Of course, circulating fuel to keep the skin cool has its drawbacks too! The SR-71 Blackbird uses its cool fuel to keep its surface temperatures down, and in fact is limited to much lower speeds than Mach 3 when low on fuel because there is nothing left to absorb the heat! Open the SR-71 in X-Plane and rather than seeing a red line on the airspeed indicator (like just about every other aircraft) to indicate maximum allowable speed, there is a whole red arc! That big red region is the speed range that you can only operate in if you have enough fuel in the tanks to soak up the heat from atmospheric friction! How far into the red zone you are allowed to fly depends on your remaining fuel load—Now you know.
Anyway, enough about the fascinating NASP concept. That summer in 1988, while living in San Diego, I took an instrument currency flight to keep my IFR skills sharp, and had a very difficult time getting up to speed in the crowded, fast-paced, hectic ATC system of San Diego after the relative slow and laid-back ATC operations back home in South Carolina. After finally getting my IFR skills up to a comfortable level (requiring about three or four flights), I decided that I wanted an instrument trainer to keep my IFR skills up to snuff. Microsoft Flight Simulator was pretty much the only game in town back then, and I was pretty disappointed in what I found. Microsoft was running on the little baby Macintoshes back then, which was great, but there were a few other little things I wanted done differently as well, and I knew Microsoft would not change their sim just to suit me. Thus, X-Plane was born, at the time called “Archer-II IFR.” I used this program for several years to keep up my instrument currency.
A bachelors degree in Aerospace Engineering at Iowa State University soon followed, and during my engineering studies there I expanded “Archer-II IFR” to be able to simulate almost any airplane imaginable by simply plugging in the blueprints for that airplane, and letting the sim then figure out how the plane should fly based on those blueprints. This is completely opposite how most any other simulator works and is by far the largest and most important differentiator between X-Plane and its competitors. I started to use the simulator to test out various aircraft designs I had conceived, and quickly learned that Cessna, Piper, Lancair, and Mooney build the way they do for a very good reason—my designs were efficient, but too difficult to fly safely. Later, I renamed the program “X-Plane” in honor of the series of aircraft tested at Edwards Air Force Base in the’60s and continuing through today.
More about Austin can be read on the Austin's Adventures blog.
Today, X-Plane is still written and developed on the Macintosh (as it has been since day one) and ported to Windows and Linux machines to allow cross-platform sales and distribution. Thus, the single set of discs available from X-Plane.com’s Ordering page will run on nearly any personal computer available in the world.
Engineers at Velocity, NASA, Scaled Composites, and Carter Aviation have all used X-Plane to do design, evaluation, and simulated flight testing. The National Test pilot school uses X-Plane to train pilots in non-conventional aircraft and flight-control systems. I know an eight-year-old Italian girl who likes to taxi the planes around to see the Corvettes parked around the airport fence. Other kids try their own designs in X-Plane, and countless youngsters gleefully crash their simulated F-22s into the ground at Mach 2 as well.
Most X-Plane customers are pilots, or people who want a simulator that has a level of realism appropriate for pilots. Many airline pilots take X-Plane with them on their (real) overseas flights on their laptop computers and simulate the next day’s flight and possible approaches while on layover. Many airline and freight pilots keep their currency up on X-Plane to breeze through their bi-annual reviews and flight currency checks. Countless private pilots use X-Plane to help maintain currency when time and money constraints keep them from making it out to the airport as often as they would like. While we have received a handful of orders from the DOD, the CIA, and Microsoft, the majority of X-Plane customers are simply people who want to experience the joy of flight. A copy of X-Plane provides a fun, easy (and safe!) way to do just that.
Many pilots have regular access to old Cessnas, but what would it be like to get dropped from the wing of a B-52 in an X-15 and head to the fringes of space at 4,000 mph? Or to fly a full re-entry in the Space Shuttle? Or take the SR-71 to 70,000 feet at Mach 3? Or fly a rocket plane on Mars?
X-Plane will show you, but even better, it will let you experience it for yourself.