PC Based Flight Simulators, Part III

Russ Erb

Originally published March 1993

I haven't checked with Norm, but does anyone know if Azuresoft is on the Chapter 1000 mailing list? (Nope! - ed.) In the 10 Dec 92 edition of this esteemed publication, I wrote about and praised fairly highly the ELITE flight simulator. Of course, nothing is perfect, and I listed several deficiencies (Roger Crane doesn't let us say "problem") in the program. Well, as if they were reading our newsletter, in early February Azuresoft sent me an upgrade offer for the new ELITE Version 3.0. Sure enough, they addressed some of the deficiencies I had mentioned.

The navigation databases, still centered around TCAs, have increased in size. For instance, the LAX database used to stop at Fox Field at the north end. The new one includes Bakersfield, and goes as far north as Porterville. You can also change nav databases while flying, allowing essentially seamless cross country flying from one nav database to another.

There are still no military fields and no communications. However, you can now modify the nav database, to include modifying or deleting (why would you want to?) existing stuff, or adding new stuff. "New Stuff" can include runways, runway and approach lighting, VORs, DME, ILS (Front and Back course), Marker Beacons, intersections, and NDBs. So you can build your own airfields. However, for some reason they have a silly limit of 15 modifications per database.

While you can only fly one type of airplane at a time, two different versions of the program (advanced, and high performance) have been integrated into one core program. From within the program, you can change which airplane you want to fly, assuming you have bought more than one type. I haven't, so I couldn't test this.

You still can't change the performance of the aircraft model you choose, but you can modify the appearance of the instrument panel. For instance, you can choose to use knobs or pushbuttons to tune radios and spin dials. The knobs work by dragging the mouse up and to the right to turn clockwise, and down and to the left to turn counter-clockwise. The altimeter can be set as a three-pointer model or a drum with single pointer model. You can change the scaling on the artificial horizon to make the pitch ladder bigger or smaller. The glideslope needle on the NAV2 OBS can be removed if your airplane doesn't have one. If you spent the big bucks and got the high performance model, you can choose between a directional gyro (DG) or a Horizontal Situation Indicator (HSI). You would also have the selection of an ADI or an RMI. The readouts on the radios and such can be displayed in either red or yellow. The marker beacon sensitivity can be set to low, high, or off. The DME receiver can now be slaved to either NAV1 or NAV2.

The control of the environment has been improved as well. The instrument reliability can be set to anything from 0 to 100%. If you're having a really bad day, or you've been putting off going to the avionics shop (i.e. less than 20% reliability), multiple instrument failures are allowed. The approach lights for the airport can selectively be turned on or off. The sensitivity of the controls near the neutral position can be reduced (Azuresoft calls it damping--not what I would have called it). Torque/P-factor can also be adjusted. I found that the default settings reasonably matched aircraft I've flown.

Finding an airport is much easier now. Instead of dragging the airplane all over the map, you can choose the airport and runway from a list box.

Once you've gone through all the work of setting up the aircraft and environment, you can now save the "state" of the aircraft. No, I don't mean write to disk that you're in California. The "state" includes aircraft position, altitude, heading, airspeed, configuration (including radio tuning), and environmental conditions. This makes it easy to fly the same approach from the same starting conditions over and over again.

For that end of mission debrief with your CFII, the map display will show the flight path (position and altitude) as before. Additionally, with version 3.0 the gear position, flap position, and airspeed can be displayed. If your CFII doesn't happen to be there with you at the time, you can save the results to a disk file to show him at a later time.

As a final improvement, Azuresoft has added some information on aircraft operation, such a V-speeds, power settings, etc. Additionally, the manual "talks" you through a practice flight with power settings, speeds, pitch angles, and such. Very helpful for guys like me who are interested in learning instrument procedures but have not actually begun work on an instrument rating.

(Update note: ELITE is now sold by Aviation Teachware Technologies)

Related Articles:

PC Based Flight Simulators, Part I - Review of Microsoft Flight Simulator and Azuresoft ELITE

PC Based Flight Simulators, Part II - How to build a throttle control

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Revised -- 27 March 1999