The Aerosoft CRJ has become a rather heated topic to discuss over recent months, There’s also a lot of misconceptions about it as well I intend to set out nearly everything there is to know about it and what the future might hold.
First of all I think it’s appropriate to take a look back in the past because the development of the Aerosoft CRJ didn’t even start with Aerosoft, it started almost 10 years ago with a company called Digital Aviation. But back in April of 2010 they closed down and the development of the CRJ was transferred to Aerosoft with some of the main developers from Digital Aviation staying onto help.
More specifically the systems, gauges and flight models were to still be developed by Digital Aviation but Aerosoft were bringing on board one of their modellers Stefan Hoffmann.
Mathijs Kok the Community Manager for Aerosoft made it very clear that this would remain very much a DA project just that Aerosoft would be coming onboard to help with the modelling and publishing of the product.
Now that we’ve discovered the history of development for the CRJ we can move onto the crucial question which is why has it been delayed? In an interview conducted at Flight Sim Con 2016 I asked that very question. Winfried Diekmann the CEO of Aerosoft said that one of the contributing factors to the delay is that the programmer for the aircraft only does it as a part time job and therefore can only dedicate small amounts of time to the project. You can listen to the full interview below:
I think some of the intense frustration around the CRJ was probably caused by the fact that Aerosoft announced the release date for the aircraft and failed to deliver the aircraft. It was originally set for September of 2015 however things came up and it was unable to be released.
You got to give it to them, Aerosoft are one of the only FS companies that keep an open line of communication between them and the customers, they update us regularly on the progress they’re making on the projects, Mathijs Kok the Community Manager for Aerosoft said this in September 2015 “We have shown in the past that we stand behind our products and do not dump them on customers and leave for vacation. Just as the busses this is a core project. That means it will be updated over a long period. We’ll listen to what you want and focus on that.”
So what does Aerosoft want the CRJ to be, it’s a good question, one that Mathijs was asked last year: “I had a customer on the phone who asked me this: “With the Airbus’s you had a very clear goal, you wanted to have the job of the flight crew in normal flight conditions simulated. With the CRJ it seems there is a deeper system depth, but it’s not clear how deep. So what is this CRJ to be?”
A damned good question. Not easy to answer as indeed we fluctuate a bit between ‘complete systems’ and ‘what is actually used’. Over time this will get more clear. I (and Digital Aviation) want to see how customers actually use the product before deciding on how to continue. It will remain a moderately priced product aimed at a mid to high educated user. We’ll never say this is ‘the Ultimate CRJ’ as that is clearly not what we want. In my personal opinion a lot of the marketing words used to sell add-ons is way over the top anyway (99% accurate, what the heck does that mean?). So what do we intend to deliver? Basically it’s easy. The best CRJ you can buy for FSX/P3D. By a large, very large margin. Nothing even comes close.
Then the day came when they had scheduled the release, sadly it wasn’t ready and Mathijs had to break the news to people: “The bad news of the day is that I stopped the countdown at launch + 9. We are seeing some issues that might be trickier than expected. When there is more information I will of course share it.”
The issues mentioned by Mathijs were later to be found out to be related to the FMS in a post to the Aerosoft forums later that week Mathijs wrote this statement: “This sunday I was going over the open issues on this project and tried to separate the fluff from the stuff that can be done in a fix and the stuff that simply needs to be fixed. Digging deeper into the last category I (we) saw that it was mostly FMS stuff. Now we learned from the Bus projects these are by far the most tricky. Honestly thousands of hours have been poured into the Bus navigation systems and we still find issues (to our defence, we now think our ND shows as many weird procedures as the real one does). Fixing these issues as they are detected is often trivial, testing them is not. Rather often a fix can cause new issues and you need to fly dozens of approaches to test a fix. It really is often a 10 min fix followed by a 3 hour test (and repeat, and repeat and….). We might get the code right on time, but there is no way we could get it tested in time.
There is also the issue of burning down people. In these last stages of a project many of the people involved work nearly non stop. For sure Hans Hartmann (for the systems etc) does. And that’s okay and normal. As long as you got a finish line in sight, you can work that hard, 80 hour weeks are standard. But add a few days to that finish line and you risk that people run simply out of energy. I am the project manager and it seems to be my responsibility to keep the people involved alive as well. So we put the release countdown on hold. And I posted it expecting a lot of comments. Imagine my surprise it all remained very calm!
So where are we now? Close, very close. But not ready.
The problem with looking deeper into the aircraft is that you find more problems that need to be dealt with, that’s another reason why one year on we still haven’t got the aircraft in our sims. The added compatibility of Lockheed Martin’s Prepar3D V3 also added time to the development “The good thing is that we now can do P3D v3 compatibility from the release, The bad thing is that it adds another platform to test on, increasing the load there.” – Mathijs Kok
Only confirming my point about looking deeper into the aircraft and redoing things Mathijs said this “Another good thing about the delay in the systems is that we were able to give the VC a few more hours. The overhead now looks a lot sharper…” The CRJ team keeps redoing things they’re not happy with improving the overall quality of the product which is great in the end but adds time.
Fast forward a year and the problems with the FMC seem to have been resolved, a statement from Mathijs last week read “We do have indeed a release date fixed now and last weekend before the Aerosoft 25th anniversary diner Hans and I sat together to discuss the open issues. And I am now pretty confident. I am NOT sharing the date now but I think it will be good to know that the end is in sight. The new schedule does allow for a bigger beta test and soon I will ask for people to join that.” Now we know that they have a release date set it fills me with great hope that it will be released, I think Aerosoft has learned slightly from its mistake of announcing a release date, as you have heard they’ve chosen to keep it a secret.
According to one of the beta testers for the CRJ, Hans Hartmann wouldn’t even attend FSWeekend this month because he wanted to work on the CRJ!
I believe that we will see the release of this long awaited aircraft this year, I’ve flown the beta copy of the aircraft and have seen an immense improvement over the last 12 months. Believe me, the aircraft is well worth the wait!