is a flight simulator using the blade element theory. It provides a real-time simulation of flight using actual weather info, aircraft systems performance and failures, accurate topographical data and real world navaids (over 25,600) and airports (over 21,000). The game is bundled with tools to design and modify aircraft, navaids and scenery. Also, various aircraft models have been included such as the Boeing 747, Piper Malibu, F-22 Raptor, Cessna 172, Bell 206, X-15, and Space Shuttle, to name a few.
This version differs from the previous in the following major areas:
- Minimum resolution increased to 1024x768.
- New scenery format with 5 times the number of elevation points.
- Auto-generated buildings.
- New aircraft format with new texture format and greatly increased flexibility in instruments. Vastly improved default instruments.
- Round world terrain model that eliminates the old distortions and errors.
- Major terrain upgrade: improved terrain accuracy for the US, land use data, all new terrain textures, roads, rivers, power lines, etc.
- Custom scenery folders.
The game uses the so-called blade element theory (19th century) to calculate aircraft behaviour. In essence this theory regards each surface as an airfoil and calculates the forces acting upon to derive its velocity. Hence the way the aircraft handles and behaves is governed by its shape, weight, centre of gravity (CG), drag and thrust. Other flight simulators have chosen to use tables for aircraft performance. One benefit of that approach is that less powerful computers can perform the simulation. By using different factors for density, gravity, the game will allow for flights in a different atmosphere. An included example is Mars.
Plug-ins enhance this simulator further by adding, for instance, real-time online flying, flight planning and control. The game can output data which can be fed to motion platforms, displays, navigation systems or home-built cockpits. It can also receive data from external sources such as RC-flight controls, Garmin GPS system, or your own flight model. Different angles of view can be output to up to 5 individual monitors (or streamed over the LAN/Internet).
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X-Plane started as a commercial product for testing and simulating real aircraft during the design phase. The original software was quite expensive and not meant for gaming. This lasted until 2001 (version 6.0), when Xicat Interactive
published it as an entertainment product. As mentioned below, the original design tools: Plane-Maker, Part-Maker and World-Maker, are still included.