Following the initial sneak preview yesterday, PMDG has now released more previews along with detailed explanations!
In a post to the AVSIM forums PMDG CEO, Robert Randazzo wrote: “Last night, we shared a little sneak preview of the PMDG 747-8 Expansion for our Queen of the Skies II product line. Many of you had a chance to get an early glimpse of what we have coming, but this evening I am here to officially unveil the first official preview of our upcoming release!
Welcome to the very latest version of the historic 747 product line!
For our preview photoshoot this evening, we have our flight test flagship set up at LSZH, preparing for an early evening departure on a gloomy, winter afternoon. My focus tonight is going to be on the flight deck, but a quick glimpse of the Queen herself is always appropriate to start an in-depth expose. We will have a daylight shoot of the exterior here for you soon enough, but in the meantime, feast your eyes on those completely redesigned flaps, fly-by-wire controlled aileron-drooped to enhance control and reduce flutter at low speeds, the raked wing tip, saw-tooth sound suppression on the engine nacelles and the bluing on the exhaust cone, which tells you the engines are still new!
I promise I will come back for more details on the exterior in the weeks ahead- as the product will be rolling into beta testing very shortly and release soon there-after. (Side-Note: The above image is a private little shout-out to my buddy, Nabarun… Now you sit there and think about what you have done… )
With the preview image that we dropped into another thread last night for fun, we hope you picked up on the huge swath of “new stuff” that we are bringing you with the 747-8. This product will not only carry with it some new capabilities for all PMDG products, but it brings forward our increasing effort to leverage the new x64bit simulator Prepar3D v4 to further increase the amount of realism we can provide.
As you read through this update, it is important to note here that the 747-8 is a very different airplane than the 747-400. While that might seem like an obvious comment, there are a vast number of switch, layout, cockpit and system changes between the two airframes, and we have modeled all of them for you. Many of them are evident in the sequence of images below:
Starting on the Captain’s side of the cockpit- we have the long-asked-for Electronic Flight Bag. The PMDG EFB will debut in the 747-8, and eventually work its way into other airframes as well. To start with, it offers a range of performance calculations for the 747-8 airplane, and can be used to customize your speeds and settings based upon weights, locations, conditions and any inoperable equipment on the airplane that may impact your takeoff or landing performance.
The Boeing EFB is a fairly utilitarian device. It gives you performance computations, which we have modeled, and it gives you some very limited flight planning capability, as well as some other flight related functions. It will be interesting for simmers primarily in that this device will give the serious simmer reason to think through the things that impact your takeoff and landing. Runway conditions are usually the first thing to think of, but there are other performance factors to consider as well- and the EFB will walk you through them.
For those wondering about the EFB in other products: The EFB is highly customized to each airframe and requires a huge amount of data input. We anticipate that it will eventually appear in the 747-400, the 777 and the NG3, but it will not happen quickly as the amount of data required for these computations takes a HUGE amount of time to collect and make digestible for the process. It is unlikely we will make it available in NGX, since that product will be updated to NG3.
An important piece that the EFB brings to the table is displayed on the Navigation Display in this image: The airport position map! No longer will you need to get lost on the airport surface, as all you need to do is dial in the range on your navigation display and you will find the airport located there, moving in real time with the position of your airplane.
This style of ground location awareness has become a key factor in reducing runway incursions during the past five years, and I am a **huge** fan of this device in the real world. (I will not move an airplane off the blocks without it. It is THAT important to safety.) The really nice thing about our implementation of this capability is that using many of the same techniques employed by the airplane’s data process, we are able to give you a dynamic, real-time implementation of the airport surface map with virtually no impact on frame rates. (This took a significant amount of work by Michael Frantzeskakis- so if you see him in person, pat him on the back.) We developed a number of proprietary capabilities for this display feature that I don’t want to get into just yet- but suffice to say we have succeeded in most of the strategic goals we set for this capability in terms of making it a “hands off” capability that requires very little if any customer involvement in order to work with whatever array of default and add-on scenery you might have installed.
For those wondering about ND airport mapping on the ND in other products: The ground mapping capability will appear in the NG3.0 as well, since that airplane uses the same technology by default.
Next up, we have the copilot’s side of the flight deck, displaying the Vertical Situation Display for the departure profile out of LSZH. The VSD was present in the NGX, and it is a key terrain awareness feature that was built into the 747-8 by default as well. This is a great tool to have open when flying arrivals into places such as Anchorage, AK or any other airport surrounded by cumulous-granitus, as it will give you a very clear picture of your relationship with the surrounding terrain.
On the far right, you can see another goody that we have been quietly keeping under wraps: Navigation Charts!
For years users have heard me mention that the primary reason we haven’t bothered to tackle creation of an EFB is that there was no useful resource of navigation charts that would support such an endeavor, and thus the development time was best spent someplace else. Back in 2016, we began to work with our friends over at Navigraph to see if we couldn’t find a reasonable source for navigation data to handle our airport ground map on the navigation display- and this led to a wide ranging discussion that at times involved PMDG, Navigraph, Jeppesen and Boeing as we searched for ways to obtain data for our ground mapping without having to pass on massive licensing fees to users. Through those conversations, and an ongoing discussion about how we will be improving the nav-data capability of all PMDG products, Magnus and Richard invited us to integrate their charting solution directly into our new EFB capability- and it resulted in this: A seamless integration of their navigation charts (which, importantly, are licensed directly by Jeppesen, one of the world’s most recognized names in aviation charting!) that you can use, in real time, while flying, simply by connecting (via our EFB) to your Navigraph charting subscription!
We think you will find this to be an incredibly useful function, with a significant amount of work put into smooth panning, zooming and page changing as needed. (We have actually improved upon the actual EFB’s functionality here- but please don’t tell Boeing… we wouldn’t want to hurt their feelings…)
Once signed in to your account, you can bring up any chart contained in your Navigraph subscription, even if you hadn’t planned to fly to that destination ahead of time. Ever had to divert to someplace while enroute due to a mechanical irregularity? No problem. A couple taps on the EFB and you will have all of the approaches available to you for display in either day or night format. (We are showing you the night format in this image.)
For those wondering about EFB-based Nav-Charts in other products and from other providers: Long term, this capability will wind up in any PMDG airplane that gets the EFB, and we **are** planning to offer a similar style solution to users of Aerosoft’s charting solutions- but we do not expect to begin working on that integration until after the 747-8 has been released… so it will come some time later an update. We recognize that some users do not want to have a subscription to a navigation charting service, but we do not anticipate creating any “Free” options that are compatible with our EFB- primarily for the same reason we have held off on the EFB creation this long: There aren’t any good unified sources of that data that we feel can be relied upon to justify the work investment required…
Getting back to the wider overview image that we previewed last night- you will notice the rain!
In the middle of 2017, we were furiously working to convert all of our modern products to make them compatible with Prepar3D v4- and at some point during the work to convert the PMDG BAe JS4100, Vin and Henning decided that it might be interesting to re-evaluate the methods we had used a **Decade Ago** to create the effect of rain on the windshield of the Jetstream in FSX. Some of you have asked us to bring those effects into the NGX, 777 and 747, but we have thus far refrained from doing so because of the impact the effect had on performance in the 32bit simulator platforms. We are VERY careful about performance and we never found a way to make those effects work without aggravating the already tenuous balance between airplane-used-resources and scenery-used-resources.
With the advent of Prepar3D v4, however- Vin and Henning decided to re-approach the methods used to create rain effects on the Jetstream and created an entirely new methodology that creates a really nice rain effect, along with many other new capabilities that we are very excited to show.
We originally thought the J41 would release in late summer and showcase this new effect, but product development hit some snags and is still in holding since we moved development resources over to a major (massive… YUGE, even!) project that we haven’t announced yet- so the introduction of what we jokingly started calling “PMDG RainMaker” got moved to the 747-8, which will be in your hands shortly!
I don’t want to say too much more about what this does- except to stress that this is a highly detailed and highly customized to the airframe upon which it sits, with an accurate aero and hydro dynamic simulation of the effects of various aspects of precipitation and motion and wipers and the like. We think you will really like it and the fact that it has almost no impact on performance in Prepar3D v4 is an added bonus!
For those wondering about adding this effect to other products: Rainmaker will be present in all of the 747 fleet first, and then we anticipate that RainMaker will be ported into the 777 and the NG3. (We are unsure about NGX.) Rainmaker will remain a Prepare3D v4 feature only- due in large part to our continued concern for OOMs on 32 bit simulator platforms. Just one of many benefits of moving to x64 for the long term- which is where our development resources are really pointed. Rainmaker is just one of a number of things we are working on behind the scenes that will only be available on x64 platforms.
Moving on to other aspects of the 747-8: There is a strong connection between the cockpit of the 747-8 and the 777 airplane. You can see these connections in some of the switches and layout decisions around the landing gear and autobrake systems, for example. You can also see that the 747-8 offers many more opportunities to configure the broad array of displays around the flight deck.
With the touch of a button you can redirect the ENG, STAT, ELEC, FUEL, ECS, FCTL, HYD, DRS, GEAR, INFO and CHKL displays pretty much anywhere you would like. You can have up multiple displays if that suits your needs, or you can just leave things alone and allow the airplane to show you only the information you need. It is entirely up to you.
If you look closely at the center pedestal, you will notice that the trim gauges are gone from the captain and first officer sides of the throttles. The trim information has been moved to the digital display, and those spots on the pedestal are now taken by a rotary selector that is used to navigate the menu system on the Electronic Checklist. We created these selectors to work by mouse click, and also harness the mouse wheel to make them feel correct while you are using them to scroll and click your way through checklists. You can also use the PMDG Touch Screen that we introduced on the 777, if you wish. The airplane has, literally, hundreds of checklists for just about every normal and abnormal condition that you can expect to experience in flight.
I **strongly** encourage you to play with the failures systems and have some fun running through the recommended trouble shooting process that the ECL offers to you. My personal favorite are the fuel leak and engine overheat checklists as they have you doing multiple tasks and reporting the results back to the checklist so that it can branch off in the appropriate direction depending upon what you find while following its recommendations.
This is just another one of the ways you can take a deep dive into the heart of the simulation that we provide to you. There is a tremendous amount of depth in our airliner simulation that simply isn’t available to you anyplace else. We tend not to stand on top of rocks and shout this out for everyone to hear, nor do we like to give what we do kitcschy brand names and try to pass it off as something it is not. We tend to get head down on the books, take feedback from experts, and make the simulation so immersive that even the most skilled of experts can look for the quirks and nuances of an airplane and find them in our simulation. In the case of the Electronic Checklist system, we have taken the time to model every sensor and feedback method in the airplane and ECL in order to demonstrate just how deeply the simulation runs in your PMDG product- so take it out and play around with it!
Oh- and best of all- the whole thing is very very light on frame rates- because it **is** possible to simulate the entire airplane without driving the user into a slideshow. That is a very important focus in everything that we do.
We will have pricing and release schedule information for this airplane once we get some feedback on her from the beta team. We have intentionally withheld her from beta testers in order to keep all of the new goodies (and some we haven’t showed you yet) under wraps…
There are exciting times ahead!”
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